In my closet I have a cardboard treasure box of notes and momentos from significant people and moments in my life. Sad to say, they are mostly from people I have lost to death. These people have had a positive impact on me and this is how I honor and remember them. This week, I had to add an obituary of a dear friend of mine to that treasure box.
I know that death and loss are natural parts of life, but knowing this does not make the loss, or the grief, any less painful. In fact, I was surprised by just how much the news of Michael’s death affected me. After all, I hadn’t seen him in several years. But regardless, the friendship he gave me made me a better man. For that, I am grateful and cannot help but miss him.
Regardless of whether a death is anticipated or a complete surprise, shock often hits you when a loved one passes. Then, immediately following your loss, accepting the fact that your loved one has indeed passed away is a hard pill to swallow. After someone you love dies, you can be confused by your feelings, maybe even feel frustrated or embarrassed by your response to death.
I say this not to be morbid or morose. I am simply reflecting on my experiences. When I lost my first spouse (Craig) to AIDS, I was angry that anyone could have called this disease a “punishment.” Especially when most never knew the kind, gentle man that he was. He was only 32.
When I lost a former fiancé to cancer, I was confused at how someone as loving and giving as Azalea could be called away by God when the world so clearly needed more people like her. She was the only person I personally knew that came close to saintly in her love for people. Still – she also died young and we were left with one less light in the world.
Of course guilt came each time. They say it’s one of the stages of overcoming grief. I felt guilty that I could not have spent more time with these wonderful people. Perhaps I didn’t tell them I loved them as often as I should have or that they inspired me beyond measure. I certainly feel that way about Mike, now.
Yes, death and loss is a very sad business, and you can feel it very deeply.
The reality is that eventually, we will all personally succumb to it. But not for now. The good news is that I (we) have today to honor the life that we live and honor those that have helped us create the person we now are.
I will miss Mike. I miss all of my friends and loved ones that have gone before me. And in their honor, I will continue to treasure their memory and make good use of the contributions they have made to my life.
If you have lost a loved one, I hope you can relate to the words I’ve written. I leave you with this quote; “Man, when he does not grieve, hardly exists.” - Antonio Porchia
Go – Live Life Well (and to the fullest),
John Aaron Villarreal
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