Family, Loss, and Grief Processing

Earlier I was hit by some sad news. A friend of mine, Ryan, suddenly passed away. As far as we know he hadn’t been sick or had any issues, something just ticked and he was gone. I’ve been struggling with differing emotions ever since.

I guess I’ve never really had to deal with death and grief. When I was growing up I had all my grandparents, both parents, and my step family. ┬áDeath was not something that young Paul ever dealt with. Even our pets, we didn’t have to put one to sleep until I was nearly 20. So here I am trying to deal with this loss. In the last few years I have had to deal with death a bit more, but still, it has been something far away, never striking close to home. The closest the Reaper has ever come was another friend, Sean, a few years ago, even then I was able to mostly deal with it.┬áSean and I were friends, but he was closer to Jenn and a few others than me. This time it hit closer to home, feels like my family that has lost a member.

Ryan and I were both members of the 501st, and I guess his loss shows how much this group of people means to me. We dress as plastic spacemen from a silly sci-fi movie but there is a deeper connection there. They are family to me, especially here locally.

Since I moved to Virginia, my actual blood relatives have been very far away. I guess I haven’t had that support system that people have when you live near your family. I talk on the phone to my Mom regularly and she has done a lot for us, in fact, more than I could ever repay, but there is something to just having them there for you in person. Jenn’s family has been terrific about being that family for me. I guess I took the Legion members and made a family out of them. We share a lot and I think of all of them as close friends, no matter how far they live. To lose one…. well it hurts. We have lost one that was close to us.

I struggle to find the words to express it. The best I can come up with is from Lilo and Stitch. Ohana means family. It may be small and broken, but it’s mine.