My friend lost a child yesterday. Suddenly, unexpectedly, and sadly, gone. He would have turned two years old in a couple weeks. He was loved by his Mom and Dad, and his two sisters. He brought immeasurable joy into this world when he was born. He will leave a desperate sorrow with his passing.
As a writer, I pride myself on being good with words. When I saw the post on Facebook, I was stunned… at a total loss. I had nothing to say in response to the family, and the many others who had commented on this sad tragedy. Every response I can think of seems inadequate.
How can I say something comforting? I just cannot imagine or construct the proper response. Really… is there one? Is there the “right thing” to say to someone when their 2-year-old, the light of their life, has suddenly left this world?
We place so much importance on such ridiculous stuff in our daily lives. Road rage, sports, jobs, video games, new cars, sneakers, politics, organized religion, the latest technology, and fashion. We live like we will never die. We focus on achieving goals. Long term goals, short term goals, financial goals, college goals, retirement goals, career goals. We yearn for materialistic things.
This won’t change. It’s how we get through it all. We keep putting one foot in front of the other… walking through this world until our number is up.
Sometimes it doesn’t happen suddenly, or so we think. We know someone is older, and they are ill. It crosses our mind that they might not make it. It may be obvious that they are at the end of their journey. Why does it still shock us when they actually die? Is it our eternal hope that we can somehow escape this fate?
In the end, what’s important? We each have a chance to make a difference while we’re here. Never underestimate that. What you do with the time you’re given can make all the difference to the lives of others. We can be a positive influence and encourage people to do their best.
I have to admit, I’m one of those people that has great faith in the resilience of the human body and spirit. It always shocks me when someone actually dies. I guess I’m the one that thinks on some level that we’ll all live forever in one form or another.
Some of you believe in God, mother nature, or some form of higher power. I do. I believe that we are under God’s care. We may not understand how events like these fit into the grand plan. The fact is, we are not privileged to know the big picture. We cannot possibly be granted foresight and volition. Because we get to choose our actions, we can only guess the outcomes. Some things are obvious, and some are hidden.
So, while we may not know tomorrow, we can live today. Hold your loved ones close. Call someone that you haven’t talked to in a while. Smile at a stranger. Take your chance while you have it. If you’re the praying kind, please pray for my friend and his family tonight.
It’s easy to be overcome by events in our lives. Sometimes, we go through things that are so profound, and so tragic, they can stop us in our tracks. We may have trouble moving forward again. People lose loved ones… parents, friends, and children. Ending a marriage, or losing custody of children can be devastating. Stress, depression, and anxiety can bear down like a cloud that will not break.
When you are grieving, other people sometimes decide when it’s time to “get over it”. When I hear of instances like this, I pause to wonder. Are we ever supposed to “get over” these life altering events? Waking up one day during a period of mourning and saying, “there, I’m better now”, seems stranger than a prolonged period of sadness. It becomes part of who you are.
I think that that’s the key. Accepting that it is part of your story. The trick is not letting it define you. It’s something that you carry with you for the rest of your life, but it’s not the essence of who you are.
We must be kind to ourselves, and allow ourselves to heal. This recovery usually has some real twists and turns. I think it becomes difficult to let people in to help. Often, we feel as though we have to fight these battles alone. It can be hard to reach out to people who can nurture us.
Accepting that you deserve to be happy is tough to do, sometimes. You may fall short of the mark as you reach for joy, but keep reaching. Staying positive is crucial. Twelve step programs advocate taking a “One day at a time” approach. I’ve written before about my strategy that I call “Keep putting on foot in front of the other”. Forward motion, however small, is necessary.
The struggle is worth it!
It’s easy to judge others for not living up to the standards that we set for ourselves. For most people, it’s a matter of thinking that you’re a better quality person than the next guy. Sometimes, we look up to folks that we think are better quality than us. What does that even mean?
When I was younger, I viewed things in absolutes. Things were black or white, with no room for gray. As we age, we can see the subtleties, the gray in things. If we don’t know someone’s back story, it’s easy to overlook that there might be one.
So, when I say that we’re all doing the best we can, I’m talking about every person. We all carry emotional and psychological stuff around with us. Sometimes it will get in the way of us being who we can be. Often, we let damaging experiences define who we are. We will dwell on them, instead of acknowledging them as part of who we are, but only part.
Some people are parents and they are not prepared or equipped to be parents. Some people enter relationships that they are just not ready to be a part of. Some people will not be able to bear the stress of their job, or life in general. Some enter a grieving process and can’t let go. These are all real struggles, and they can affect the way we live our life.
Does it sound like I’m making excuses? I’m not. People will and should be accountable for their actions, one way or another. Is that karma? We all have to answer for things we do. We all have regrets for things that haven’t gone so well in our past.
I’m saying that a person does their individual best. They see things through their lens, and live life through their own filter. Their best may not be very good, according to our standards. Our best may not be good enough in their point of view.
The important thing is to consider that everyone is doing their best.