A little over three years ago, I lost a friend, a mentor and a beautiful soul to cancer.  Her loss seemed sudden and unfair because her light shined so brightly and touched so many.  I looked up to her as my mentor., She had wisdom I appreciated and although her life hadn’t been easy, she frequently sat across from me drinking her coffee with a peace that I found alluring.  I wanted to capture her peace desperately, so I listened intently as she gave me practical advice about my life.  As a friend, I appreciated the time and attention she gave me as I rambled on about my insecurities and my lack of self-confidence that created a multitude of troubled relationships.  Her wise words gave me confidence and reminded me that my life would be fine and that I’d be okay just the way I was.  She was confident that my problems and concerns were only fleeting and that as time progressed, I’d figure things out.

Today, I miss her beyond words and often wish that we could meet at a corner coffee shop like we used to or spend time strolling along the beach talking.  I miss her calming presence, her advice, and her friendship.

Yesterday, her nephew and I, who I’m grateful to call a long-time friend, walked along the lagoon trail where she lived, to find the bench her family had made, to honor her life and death.  For many years, she would put a lease on her Chocolate Lab, Moose, and walk him there, sometimes multiple times a day.  Three years later, the beautiful bench symbolizes her continued presence in the lagoon.

As we walked in the lagoon, the air was cool and still, the trail quiet and peaceful; both reminders of the way Alex had been.  As I saw the bench, I felt my breath catch in my chest and tried hard not to cry as we spent a moment in silence, honoring her life and how much she meant to us.  Thank you, Alex, for all you’ve given me.  You will not be forgotten.

Taking time to honor those we loved and miss, is a critical part of our healing.  To heal effectively, we need to first, acknowledge our pain and second, speak our pain out loud.  This holds true, particularly when speaking with others who share your pain for the same person.  Our pain connects us to one another and reminds us of our own humanity.  It reminds us that time can be fleeting and it helps us appreciate what we share now.  It teaches us to be grateful for the time we shared with them and finally, teaches us compassion for the pain others feel.

My advice to you is to find a way to honor the people you’ve lost to death as a means of furthering your own healing.  I’ve put together a few things to help you get started.  Please try them and share how they worked for you.

  1. Light a candle and sit in silence and sift through your memories of them.
  2. Spend time looking through photos with someone else who misses them.
  3. Share one of your favorite pictures of them on social media.
  4. Share a story that you remember fondly about them on social media.
  5. Volunteer or give to a charity that was important to them.
  6. Plant a tree or flower, nurture it and watch it grow.
  7. Dance to their favorite song.
  8. Visit their favorite places.
  9. Write them a letter, thanking them for their impact on your life.
  10. Share who they were with someone who didn’t know them.

We honor those we’ve lost by keeping their memory alive, by speaking their name, and sharing who they were with the world.  How else can you share the memory of those you’ve lost?  Leave your comments below to honor them and keep their memory alive.

With Love and Prayers,

Catherine