You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.
This seems to be the beauty of death and loss. It provides contrast for us to deeply appreciate what we do have.
Recently, I lost an old family friend though I had not had contact with him for many years. It was a tragic death and he was a bright light extinguished way too soon. He had sparkling charisma and a highly magnetic creative force that I see living on in his children.
He suffered greatly this go around.
If this was painful for me, I cannot imagine the pain it was for his family. I know right now they must wander through life only half here, lost in memory and shock. The only thing I know to compare it to is lovesickness where pervading pain seeps into every crack and you fake your way through everyday life.
Perhaps it is the tragic nature of his death and the painful life he was living in the end that makes it all that much more difficult, but who can really quantify this kind of grief.
For those left behind, this loss inspires us to live life more to the fullest. It reminds us how temporary and fleeting things can be. Though death is more extreme, it applies to losing a home, a job, a lover or a friend.
The ensuing adjustment can add value to our future if we allow it.
I see myself dropping what I thought was important these last weeks to spend time with my son who is visiting for the funeral. I can put the ever important deadlines aside and take a weekend with my husband. It has put things into perspective about what actually is important. It brings us closer to appreciating what we do have.
That appreciation would not be as heartfelt if it weren’t for the loss.
I have watched how this death has affected my children and realize its relevance as a necessary component. We can learn that death brings us closer to life, that people do suffer in deep ways, that no matter how much help you offer someone, they are ultimately responsible for their experience here.
Every gesture of kindness and connection now has more depth… until we forget again. The relationship we have with family members gets stronger.
The permanent nature, that feeling of never being able to see that person again makes our relationship with others that much more meaningful.
On a lesser scale, when we get the new home or job, we embrace it differently because of the hardship. The contrast makes things better and much more appreciated.
In this present situation, I can look around and see that everyone who knew our friend Park is just a little bit closer to who is left here in their circles of family and friends. We do not go untouched and though we may not feel the pang as much as his immediate family, we know something has changed in us that will not go back to the way it was before.
When we lose someone we love, we go forever changed for the better even though it comes in the form of suffering.
We feel compelled to reach out to people we don’t communicate with enough. We remember how important it is to connect and to make the effort to stay connected. We also stay comforted in the fact that we all have an eternal spirit that lives on outside of our body, an eternal light body that we can always stay in contact with.
We come to know this keenly only through death of loved ones.
Our memory of the energy and spirit of those who have left us lives on through eternity. We cherish the times we did have and realize in a new way the importance of now.
The gift of death makes things more precious: the songs he sung, the enthusiasm he brought to a room, the unfailing sense of humor and those red shoes.
We will miss you, Park.
Your immeasurable gift reminds us to fight, to laugh, and to love.
What is your experience of death? How have you found gifts in the midst of such pain?
It would be so helpful to all of those reading to hear as many experiences as possible. Through expression of grief and shared suffering, we help each other heal.