Losing Loved Ones Teaches Us To Embrace Those We Have

I think I’m lucky so many of my friends have died.
I know that sounds twisted, but as this campus copes with the loss of an outstanding student and friend to many, I am reminded of the many friends I have lost.

Many is not an understatement, I assure you.

I’m shocked by those around me who have not yet faced such a loss.

After all that I’ve seen through my life, it takes some time realize that there are some people who have yet to suffer death’s particular sting of loss.’ ‘

Those are the people I looked at with a little bit of envy.

I used to think they were the lucky ones, those people who made it through a couple of decades of life without ever having to say good-bye for one last time.

I used to wish I could count myself among the inexperienced funeral-goers and inept sympathy card writers.

I was jealous of my peers who weren’t sure what to wear to a viewing or a funeral service, as I mechanically pulled my usual out of the closet.

I wondered how it was possible that newbies existed in the strange circumstance that is death when I was rich in frequent-crier miles.

For a long time I thought I was cursed or God was angry at me for something.

I was being ridiculous, I know.

But as those who have gone through the loss of a loved one can tell you, not much makes sense when you can’t think about anything except never talking to a best friend or family member again.

I said that I was lucky to have lost so many.
Don’t get me wrong.

I’d give anything to have my loved ones back, but I know I can’t do that.

Sometimes all you are able to do is take what life has given you and respond the best way that you can.

Managing this kind of pain transforms people.’

There are sparks of charity, kindness and compassion that you may never have noticed before.

Losing someone changes people, briefly or permanently.’

Regardless of length, it is a rare opportunity to see something deeper in those around you.

It is a rare opportunity to see the best in people, to see their compassion.

It is a rare opportunity to see in someone empathy that may never be shown otherwise.

Loss brings people together, unites them through the emotional turmoil.

It allows others to care for you and you to care for others.’

Hearts seek refuge in each other to survive.

There is a level of understanding rarely felt between individuals. It can create bonds that last much longer than the pain of loss.

When I was 16, the guy I had a huge crush on finally asked me out.

It was on an early release day at school, and he told me he’d call after lunch so we could work out plans.

Neither of us made it through lunch; we found out a close mutual friend had passed away.

We certainly couldn’t go on a date, but we didn’t want to be alone either.

Instead of a first date, we spent hours at the beach talking about how great our friend was.

We talked about the kind of man he would have become and the good times we had with him.

Together, we felt our way through something agonizing and created something new between the two of us.

We remain close friends today, something I accredit to our ability to become so close so quickly, despite the pain of loss.

Perhaps the friendship was a last gift from our friend, or maybe that is too clich’eacute;.

Even if it is, I often wonder whether he and I would be the friends we are without having gone through what we had together.

It is these bonds that make me feel lucky to have experienced the losses I have, but it is something so much more as well.

It’s a rare day when I don’t think of someone I have lost and grow thankful for what I have left to experience.

The little moments I share with friends, family, even acquaintances means more to me now because I know this may be all I have left of them’mdash;or all they have left of me.

For those of you who have experienced loss first hand, remember the caring and the compassion that came with the tears and heartache.

Remember how much more you appreciated the little things when you were reminded it could be taken away so quickly.

For those of you currently suffering, stay strong and hold on to those who are helping you through it all.

Take a look at all of those things that remind you of your loved one.

Don’t avoid it.

Cherish it.

Love those moments and remember them while they are still fresh in your mind.

Be thankful for the experiences you shared with them. Feel lucky for being reminded how much joy life can give you, joy that can only be measured appropriately when compared to great pain.

Kadie Hayward may be reached at khayward@ut.edu.

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