Sunday, August 30, 2009

Perspective: On Mourning and Regret

A few years ago, a friend told me that a cousin of hers who was 20 had died due to sleep apnea. I didn’t know what to say, how to be. My heart went out to my friend. I couldn’t possibly comprehend what she must be going through.

The next day I got an email that she was having a tough time. If only she had...

I wrote back a longer reply than I thought possible, and only hoped that it would be something that she could receive in the state she was in. I debated about sending it before hitting the send key. I in no way wanted to take away her grief, but I did want to have her reconsider the guilt she seemed to be feeling.

I wrote, “I am sure your cousin looked up to you, and appreciated all that you were for her. While you now wish you had spent more energy and time with her, I am sure she valued all that he had with you. It is too bad that often people do not communicate what is in their hearts, because I believe that we would hear many things that people take for granted, but don't know because no one tells us. I suspect that she probably would have told you all of this, and then some...had there been, or had she created, the opportunity.

I understand that you are struggling...and that maybe you feel that you haven't been "good enough"...and maybe you have been caught up in your life...but never underestimate the power of what you have done. I have no doubt that you have impacted the lives of those around you, in ways that you may never know or suspect (think George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life).

The true test of life comes in the focus. You will honor your cousin's life more by focusing on what you can put into the lives of those still here, rather than focusing on what you have lacked or what has been missing.

Above all, know that you are human, and with your humanity comes certain strengths and frailties. You have a tremendous heart, and it will help you find the way any time you are willing to listen. Forgive your frailties, focus on your strengths, and give from your heart. Everything will take care of itself from there.”

I hadn’t been sure how to end the letter, but someone, or something did it for me. I was very pleased. It is always interesting to me how “I” will write something and really like it. However, the times I am especially pleased are the times that I know that I felt like I had some "help." How difficult it is to encapsulate those moments of grief that one feels after the death of a loved one.

Beside the letter I included a quote from Buddha that showed up in my mailbox that same week:

Your life is a gift.
Your life is a gift that you give yourself.
Your life is a gift that you give others.
Your life is a gift that you give the world.
Have you forgotten that your life is a gift?
YOU are a gift.
Where could you start giving?
To yourself, to others, and to the world?

The one piece that stuck with me more than others will be the one I will leave you with,

Forgive your frailties,
focus on your strengths,
and give from your heart.
Everything will take care
of itself from there.

YOU are a gift.

PS Looking back, I would now say that letter was a forerunner of what I currently call my Letters of Love - letters written for someone specifically, but often have profound universal messages of Love. If interested, see video in left column ("Looking for Answers?") for more details, and for information on where to read more letters, and a special offer, if you'd like to get one of your own. :-)

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