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What’s Your Story?

We cannot know when our story begins what the moral of it will be. Hero or Villain? Devil or Saint? Superstar or Average? Most of us will be somewhere in the middle, not sure how we got into the story or what we’re supposed to do other than ‘live’.
Others will feel compelled to be helpful, to be kind and share kindness with those they come into contact with. 

They are a light in the world by simply being who they are. Their true selves.

Those people gently light the flames in our own hearts. Their laugh and wry smile remind us to stop taking things so seriously and in that way, they spread Love and Light. We don’t know, perhaps that they ignited something within us. That emptiness was filled, darkness lightened. It’s not until their own light has gone out that we realize the effect it had on our lives. This is why we grieve and why we commune.

Gathering and Grieving

We gather to honor and remember. To laugh, cry, and love. Afterward, it’s up to us to remember and carry on. To remember what this person meant to our story even though theirs, in part, is complete.

There is another chapter, however. The chapter of memories and legacies. We will continue to remember them and it’s important we do. To remember and share with the people who are still a part of the continuing story. To speak of how much they meant, how much they laughed, and how their kindness lit up our own life. To keep the memories alive.

I cannot say when happiness will return after grief. It’s not for me to answer or know. What I can say, is eventually, when you think of them you will smile instead of cry. Instead of feeling angry that they’re gone you’ll have gratitude for what you shared together or what you learned from them. Please allow all of it!

Stages

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance are the 5 stages of grief.  Allow these important stages to pass through you. It is in allowing that healing can begin. Feel all of it so you can start to breathe again. Talk, write, scream, or meditate. Laugh, cry, and hug.

I’ve had a lot of experience with grief and lots of practice recovering. As someone who’s been through it, I can tell you I have no idea what you are feeling. My perspective is not yours. My experiences have not been the same. In the general scope of things however, we all know suffering and sadness. We can comfort each other from that place. This may be the first time you’ve lost a loved one. The first time your heart has broken. We gather at memorials to help the legacy of this person’s life to feel overwhelmingly loved while in the midst of grief.

Life, After.

After today, life goes on. It won’t be quite the same. The house, a little less bright. But as we walk on one day at a time we can light a candle to remember their light. Look at a picture to see their smile. Watch a video to hear their laugh again. Soon all these things will help replace the sadness with the love you feel for them. When you think of them you will start to smile. When something makes you laugh that reminds you of them you’ll start to realize happiness is just down the road. You will start to feel like yourself again and start a new chapter of your story. Life, After.

Remembering My Friend

As a child, I wasn’t naturally talented at “friendship”. I was an introvert and some emotional wounds early in life made it hard for me to open my heart to new people in fear of losing them eventually. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned how to trust that it’s safe to love even though people will continue to weave in and out of my life. Friendship makes the tapestry of our life RICHER.

The News

On March 14th I found out that a friend passed away. Our relationship was not very close or very deep but it was long. Life changes meant that I had moved 3 times between kindergarten and 3rd grade of elementary school. I vowed that I wasn’t going to make any friends at my new school because I ‘knew’ (in my misguided youth) that “every time I make friends, we move”. Despite my vow, a girl named Sarah peaked into my shyness and tried to be my friend and warm my icy exterior. We met my first day at the new school when I transferred in third grade. I don’t remember much of what she said other than introducing herself and being very kind.

Later that year we were in our first play together and all through school we were in choir and theatre until the very end of our school days. Through all of it, she was kind. I don’t remember her ever being rude or mean. When I had so many mean people I thought I couldn’t trust, I could always trust she would be kind. Whenever I saw her I smiled. She was my friend and I barely knew it. We didn’t hang out much other than in the theatre after school but she was always friendly.

Weaving in and Out

Life went on and we lost touch until facebook and reunions reconnected us. She sent gifts for my daughter when she was born that she had made herself. When we saw each other at a reunion she gave me some more clothes and her daughter included a pair of ballet slippers she wanted my daughter to have. Her kindness will live on. It surprised me how thoughtful she was. Sometimes, I still feel like I don’t know how friendship is supposed to work. I have a few very close people that I see occasionally and the rest feel like acquaintances that I exchange niceties with. My friendship skills are still a work in progress. It’s taken time to trust.

Sarah was the beginning of that 35 years ago.

She was always kind to me. I didn’t realize how much that meant until I found out that she was gone. It put me and my fellow classmates in a state of shock. I didn’t know she was sick, which is completely within her rights of privacy. I respect that. Tomorrow is the memorial service and I’ll join friends and her family in mourning and celebrating her.

I am sad, but not for me.

I grieve for her family and those who were closest to her. I am happy I knew her. Happy she planted the seed of gentle kindness in me. She was real, funny and snarky. Traits I admire. She also had grace and gentle strength.

I will always remember her saying hello to me that very first day of school and grateful for that gentle act of kindness. The moral of her story is “always be kind”. You never know how much a small gesture will mean to someone.

I’m thankful she was in my life. Happy I got to be part of her story. I wasn’t in the best friend role. More of an on again off again friendship. Small as it was, my life was made more colorful and happier because she was in it. Thank you Sarah.

Resources

If you are suffering from the loss of a loved one and need help with processing your grief I recommend this website on The 5 Stages of Grief. Written in Memory of All who have gone before me, weaving their colorful beautiful threads through my life.