Losing Friends

Have you ever lost someone important to you?

Is there anyone who could say ‘no’ to this question? I cannot imagine this being the case, unless you are very, very young.

How can we cope with our sense of loss?

I realize everyone is different and no one approach will work for all, but I feel compelled to try to open some kind of door here. Certainly, for myself, but also for you, if that is something you desire.

Like many others, I have experienced a great deal of loss in my life. Some of it in dramatic fashion, some over prolonged time periods, some from a distance, some close up.

During a relatively short period of time, I lost my father, my best friend of forty years, my mother-in-law, two brothers-in-law, a great aunt and my daughter’s family boxer. All these beautiful, incredible beings passed from this life to another, through the arms of death.

Absorbing the emotional impact of these transitions was very challenging for me. I had to recognize this was the truth. I couldn’t hide from the pain or ignore it. I couldn’t rationalize that they were better off leaving their lives here. There was a kind of limbo inside of me that surrounded their passing. A suspended state, leaving me wondering about how we are all connected and whether the connection goes on, despite their physical absence.

I was attempting to find my way through this when another loss occurred. Even though not a brother by birth, I had a deep connection with another and called him my brother, and he died by his own hand. Gone in one second of time. Violent, tragic, and yet completely understandable to me, given his circumstances. In his death I recognized that any form of judgment muddies the water. You cannot know another’s path without being on it yourself.

I also discovered that not all loss is the result of physical death. Friendships die, even long-term ones. And they can be just as painful. All those years melting away into mere memories.

It is easy to become stuck in the sadness and sense of loss. And the pain often extends outward into other areas in your life, sometimes overwhelmingly so.

So, where did my struggles take me?

One direction led me to asking why any of us are here? Is it solely to experience our heart’s breaking?

I believe the truth is that we are not here to subtract from each other’s lives but to add to them.

I bolded that statement because it is that important. Those few words shifted something huge inside of me and offered me a question to ponder.

Who am I now, that they were in my life? What did we share? What did we offer each other?

I feel glory in my answers to these questions.

I feel an awareness of something real and tangible. A sense of beauty and depth and how my life is better, fuller, grander because of them.

I sense that parts of them are now parts of me and I can pass them on to others. Their lives then extend through me, becoming another part of the amazing tapestry that covers this world.

Whatever pain or suffering once existed, can be transformed, if I allow it. If I encourage it. If I embrace it.

If I open and let my feelings run through me and guide them, knowing ‘all is well with the world’, I become free and can remember clearly how beautiful every connection I’ve ever made truly is. All a part of the whole.

When I see my life through this lens I feel blessed.

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