This week I lost another friend, very suddenly and very unexpectedly. She collapsed and died within a matter of hours. She was a vital member of our church, and as we gathered together today, many tears were shed as we were confronted by her absence. The blessing was that we were not alone in our grief. We will gather to celebrate her life together. We will share memories together. We will tell stories to each other. We will laugh and cry and hug, and doing so, we will pass on the love she gave so generously to all of us.
Yet all of us must also go on with our daily lives, carrying our grief with us. Each of us carries different levels of grief, bringing to this bereavement the losses of our life-times. The first thing I did on the day following my friend's death was put on my grief symbol. I have a necklace that I wear when I need to remind myself that I am grieving. Having a tangible symbol enables me to be more gentle with myself when I find myself unusually exhausted or irritable or down. Holding on to that symbol helps me take a deep breath from time to time and give myself permission to grieve. No one else can give me that permission. I have to consciously give it to myself. While my colleagues may express condolences when they initially hear of my friend's death, they have no reason to remember that I am grieving day after day.
So, for the immediate future, I will do my best to remember that I am grieving. I will try to get more sleep. I will be more cautious when driving. I will take extra care of my health. I will wear my grief symbol. I will live gently, day by day.