As I was leaving the nursing home where my mother resides, a bus drove by and stopped.  It was a miserably hot day and I was grateful to interrupt the walk to the train. Then as I was leaving the bus, the driver left the bus as well – it was his last stop. Unexpectedly this stanger said to me, “Do you know what it feels like to have your life turned upside down? One day you are with someone you love and the next minute she is gone.”

So, yes, I listened and sympathized and missed my train. But my life went on. His would still be in turmoil.

Lives turned upside down

Remembering  9/11 there was a story of a piece of paper delivered to a family who lost their husband and father during 9/11. The chilling part of the story was that he had scrawled a note, tossed it from a window, and it was returned 10 years later.  But the note did not bring reassuring news – he had been trapped in the building. Their lives were turned upside down.

I recalled what happened after the Air France tragedy and thought of one particular story of a young woman at the airport waiting with expectation and joy for her fiancée. I wondered if she would be able to plunge ahead or would have difficulty for years to come trying to understand how she went from thoughts of a wedding to thoughts of a funeral. Her life was turned upside down.

For all those who lose someone they love, they loose a part of themselves and grief often overwhelms. And while there are many helpful suggestions in Grief & Depression Coping With Denial, Loss, Anger WebMD.  we really do not know how grief affects each person.

The driver on the bus kept saying to me, “If I had known it would be our last day together, I would have gone home earlier. I might have said things differently.”

Speaking kindly

If we spend our days always speaking kindly to those whom we love, perhaps we can get through life with fewer regrets and find a place in our heart that helps us to rebound. I often quote these words. “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” I thought it was from Plato.

In fact checking the source, I came upon a blog in which David Perkins explained:

"It’s a great quote, but it’s unclear who said it. It actually seems to be an amalgamation of two separate quotations. Author James M. Barrie, of Peter Pan fame, said 'Be kinder than necessary.' But his advice stops there. Plato is quoted as saying 'Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.'

"Whoever pushed these two together actually created a more thoughtful and salient point. It’s worth remembering the next time you find yourself about to be ungracious with someone."

Perkins is the author of  Dear Austin - A Letter To My Son: David M. Perkins -

Loving life to the fullest

No matter what unexpected situation one may face when love is lost, it takes time for the reality of the situation to seep in. Grief is how our body and mind responds to loss. We see in the movies and we read in books how people cope when a marriage is called off, a lover or spouse betrays or asks for a divorce, a life partner meets with tragedy. In each situation who is to say which person has the heaviest heart or how long it will take to grieve?

Each person goes through the process of grief in his or her own way.  And our responsibility to those who are bereaved is simple -- to stand by and offer our support, our love.  And then one day, in some unexpected way, they will step out into the sunshine ready to live again, ready to love again.

Copyright 2012 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved

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