Lessons Learned from Death

I cannot believe that anyone who has witnessed the illness and death of a loved one will ever say, “That was a learning experience, right there.” We are consumed by the shock that we will never see our loved one again, and in our minds, we rehash the hours spent in hospitals and doctors’ offices. If you know someone has a terminal illness, you are never fully prepared for when the time comes to say goodbye; however, you know that time is coming and you have some time to get your heart ready. It’s not the same for losing a loved one over a matter of a few days or hours. Your heart isn’t ready to say goodbye, and you are just gobsmacked when all the hysteria is over and they just aren’t around anymore. It’s an indescribable void in your life, an empty hole that needs filling. As if you are walking in a fog, you put one foot in front of the other and go about the daily tasks of your life. In your quiet alone time, you long for them to come walking through your door; then reality sets in, and you remember the door won’t open and they won’t be standing there. This “after death” time does not get easier. It just gets different.

But there are some lessons that I have learned in going through this that are worth sharing. I have learned to be more loving, more caring, more giving — because what if someone is suddenly gone and I don’t have them anymore? I have learned to be more appreciative of the people in my life, and I place more importance on the nice things that others do for me. I have learned that some things that used to get under my skin about another person have suddenly become so trivial that they don’t even merit a negative thought. Oh, that we would always treat others as though we may never be with them again.

Don’t you think that anyone who is dying will tell you to go live your life and just be happy? I have learned that the most love you can show to another human being is to truly wish for them to be happy, with you or without you. That is the meaning of love — when you put someone else’s needs, desires and happiness ahead of your own.

I have learned that our days our numbered and that God is in charge, not us. When God decides it’s time to bring us home to Him, it’s going to happen according to His plan, and there will be no stopping it. And because we have only a certain number of days, we should live them according to His direction. If we do this, we might have a chance at being happy once again and God will see to it, as if our loved one reached heaven and had a talk with God and said, “Hey, look down there at her, let her be happy again.”

I have learned to appreciate things a little more, both in my workday and among friends and family, because we don’t know when it might suddenly be gone. All the good things in my day that I couldn’t wait to share with my loved one who has passed? I now just have to keep those stories to myself and remember that the person whom I loved probably knows in heaven what’s going on. The bible speaks of angels as messengers coming down from heaven. So who’s to say they don’t go back and report stuff? We just don’t know, do we?

I have learned that a death of a loved one will strengthen our faith in God and our resolve to live out the rest of our life in a way that is pleasing to God – because if someone we love is so easily snatched away, then surely my time will be up when I may not expect it, so I should probably keep my heart and mind a little closer to heaven. From Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

I have also learned that it is okay to love again, to meet others who may have experienced the same things that I have, and who might just understand. But I’m going to love deeper, and harder and better. I’m not the only one who is going through this — there are others out there who need a hug, a kind word, and they need to be told that it’s okay and you will get through this. I’ll let you know how it turns out.