It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
~Alfred Lord Tenneyson~
Carol and I recently made dinner plans with our dear friends Harvey and Sharon. When it came time for the dinner we found ourselves at a funeral home for our friends’ calling hours. They had been killed in a plane crash a week before. We hadn’t seen them for a while but always treasured our time with them and looked forward to their company.
The whole week between their deaths and the calling hours, I woke up at night with visions of the fiery plan crash, trying to imagine what it must have been like for them. Did they have time to reflect on their lives? Did they say they loved each other one last time? Did they hold hands for their last few seconds?
Most of the people I lost over the past few years knew they were approaching death and so did I. Fortunately I had time to reminisce with them and ultimately say goodbye. While our parting was sorrowful, I had time to be with them one last time and share a few moments of joy.
With Harvey and Sharon it was different. One moment they were part of our lives and the next moment they were gone. I have learned that people I cherish don’t need to be part of my daily life to be important to me. Just knowing they are on earth brightens my outlook and gives me a sense of belonging and being loved. They have become part of me and the fabric of my life.
Losing people like them leaves me feeling that part of me has been ripped away. I am still the same person but something is missing. I mourn the part of me they took with them when they left the earth. As the reality of their loss starts to set in, I feel less sorry for myself in their loss. I remember all the great times we had, the joy they brought to my life and the ability to be fully myself in their company.
Yet tears still come to my eyes as I write this, knowing that I will never again delight with them over Harvey’s koi pond or Sharon’s feast table. I find it hard to savor their memory without feeling the sting of their loss. I have also discovered that the older I get, the more I rely on memories of those I have loved and who have loved me than on the experience of their company. It remains sad, but my memories of dear friends and relatives help me manage hard times and comfort me when I face difficult challenges.
Life Lab Lessons
- Set aside some time to bask in good memories of those you have lost.
- Treasure what you have learned from them.
- Recall what their best qualities were.
- Try to show those qualities in your life.
- Care for others as those who loved you cared for you.