When we miss someone, we miss not just the person, but what that person brought to our lives.
This cannot be replaced, nor can it be removed. Only that person can fulfill that sense of longing and lacking, with their absence.
Everyone brings something unique. Sometimes that uniqueness fits in a special way with our thoughts and feelings and experiences and makes us feel something good. It can be a good friend, or it can be more than a friend. It can be a family member or even a colleague. Our days are wide open experiences, full of encounters and moments that we seldom expect, but often welcome. Having that certain special someone add to this, is something that we can easily grow attached to.
Perhaps they sometimes send you something that makes you smile. You respond in a way that makes them smile too. Your time in person is usually good as well, but may not always be. Negative happenings happen all the time. They usually pass. We pass each day knowing that this particular person is in our lives and we are happy that this is so. They sometimes call, or send emails, or stop by unexpectedly. We make plans with them and we love their interactions with us. It doesn’t matter if we are in love with them or not, we still love the way having them around makes us feel.
Unless that is, they happen to be gone from our lives, and we miss them.
Sometimes people leave. They leave for a number of reasons and in an equal number of ways. They move away. They lose interest in being in our lives. We hurt them and they retreat from us. Circumstances change and your paths diverge. Or they die.
My mom died from cancer on August 16, 1999. It was a very swift ordeal, from diagnosis, to death. She had one chemotherapy treatment and did not live to see the second one. Hers was a cancer of the pancreas. This can be sneaky, as it tends to spread to other organs before it gets detected. By the time it does get noticed or found, it is often too late to do anything about it—she passed away just seven weeks from when she was first diagnosed.
Her death being this swift had a two-fold effect. On the one hand, it was merciful for her to not have to suffer for too long. One the other, everyone else could hardly process, much less fathom, what had just happened. Where we were all gathering to bring her strength and support while options were explored. She suddenly began to fade, and then, before anyone expected it, she slipped from our grasp…and our world.
This leaves those left behind with the challenge of dealing with the sudden loss of a loved one. We are never sure how to react at first, or even as time passes and we find ourselves still struggling with the shock and the pain.
The same can be said for those that suddenly lose a close relationship with someone. It could be a romantic partner, or a marriage, or even a close friendship. These things can fade over time and dwindle to a distance, but these can also end abruptly and unexpectedly. One or the other might suddenly come to a realization that they need to grow beyond the confines of the mix between the two and so they act upon that. The other is informed of this and there is hurt. There is anger. There can be resentment and there can even be hostility.
It is in these moments of hurt that people sometimes behave at their worst.
I have been fortunate enough to meet and love some amazing people, even if only for brief periods of time. For some of them, I deeply desired to have them in my life for a long and sustainable period of time and growth; to explore our union and our connection and to learn and cherish more about my self, as well as the other.
One such person was a woman I met through Facebook. An intuition guided me to her and on a whim I made contact. Contact was received and reciprocated and we soon began sharing ever-deepening levels of our individual lives. The more we did so, the more we discovered commonalities of an almost cosmic capacity. This then lead to testing the connection in person and after spending a day together, we both felt a great sense of chemistry, connectivity and a more than mutual attraction. But, this was not to last.
She had done the math. She had looked at all the variables between us and our paths that we were on and she surmised that it just would not work. I, however, did not share her apprehension. I thought she was the one that I had been searching for, for most of my life.
At first, I accepted her take; but, as it took hold in my mind, I began to see points to argue, and that is exactly what I began to do. I argued her stance and she withdrew from our discussions. In the end, she became alienated by my behavior and all communication ceased between us.
I came to realize the damage that I had done. I, in turn, lapsed into deep regret for the loss of what could have been a fruitful friendship, if nothing else.
It is from these regrets that we make vows to learn from our mistakes. We do not want to experience pain and loss and sorrow and regret. We want to discover and create positive and meaningful experiences in our lives. We want to connect with people, but we don’t want those connections to come to an end. We experience the pain of their departure and we try to move on, sooner or later, but the pain remains.
The pain is in our heads. It is in our hearts and in our day to day lives. It is in a song we hear, or in a thing we see. It is in a memory that sneaks up from behind unexpectedly. It lives inside a smile that they used to bring to us, that still takes our mouths by surprise, when that funny thing gets inside our mouths and minds again.
Getting attached to someone means getting attached to the things they did and said, the things they made us feel and the overall idea that they should always be there, right there and only there, in our lives.
We like it when things don’t change. We like it when we don’t have to adjust and do work and face difficulties.
It can be stressful and it can be painful, but the pain should not be avoided. We must feel the pain so that we can allow it passage through us, so that we don’t cling to the pain and are able to get over it and begin to heal and be better again.
The empty places left behind from somebody gone will someday stop aching, if we let them. We have to let go. This sounds cruel and unimaginable. Letting go means forgetting that person and what they brought and meant to us. It means diminishing their existence, as if they never existed. It means that the empty places are all that are left. And that, sad as it is, is the truth.
The sooner we acknowledge this and embrace this fact, the sooner we can move forward with our lives.
For many, this is very hard to do. They become depressed and obsessed with trying to make things the way they were before. These people do not heal. They keep their wounds fresh and open and then they get infected. They fester with pain and pus and they ooze and weep continuously.
It is not okay to do this. It is harmful not only to the person in pain, but also to the memory of the person who is gone. When they are thought of, they are remembered with pain. They become associated with the pain more than they are remembered for the joy and the beautiful meaning that they brought to us.
However, that said, it is still okay to miss someone. It is part of the process of healing. Just be certain that the missing is not missing out on the process of the healing.
Let the tears come, if it comes to that. Keep their memory in the happy places in your heart. Be thankful that this person was in your life, even if it was for a brief period of time. Do not wish for things to be different, though it is tempting to do so. Everything happens in accordance with a grander scheme. What that is, is not for us to know. We must only trust the path we are on and free ourselves to grow with it. Keep moving and keep breathing and and most of all keep believing that goodness will come again.
And it will.
And it may even surprise you, when it comes around again, kind of like it did before. After all, nothing is forever; not even the absence of that special someone. People change. Sometimes they change their minds. We have to accept all that happens and keep feeding and nurturing our own positive outcomes, no matter what they are.
The loss of someone who passed on from this world may be harder to fit into this smile, but even with that, there is always hope for our lives to be better.
We learn invaluable lessons from one another. Those that have died have surely tried to teach us all that they could.
Let their essence survive in those teachings they’ve tried.
Give credence to their life by living a better one for yourself. It is what they would have wanted for you.
Celebrate a life more than you grieve a death.
Death is a natural thing. It is just as natural as birth. Life is all about beginnings and endings, in every form. There is nothing wrong with being left behind. It is merely an opportunity to live a little more, and a little better. Celebrate your own life as you do, and appreciate the extended opportunity you have been allowed. Let go of your expectation for the way things should be and allow things as they are to fill you up with their meaning.
After my first marriage ended, I felt lost in a place of utter devastation. Everything was in ruin. All that I had built up to and lived up to that point, was now gone. I took to living minimally. I bonded with nature and with whatever the world could bring to help fill the void within me.
While camping one time, I came across a pamphlet about forest fires. As I read it, an analogy took shape in my mind. The pamphlet explained that a forest fire was devastating. It would happen when the forest grew dense and old and would become more and more dry. A lightning strike, or a careless act of human beings would begin the blaze and soon a large portion would catch fire and continue to burn, relentlessly. It burned the forest green to the ground, in a charred and empty void of utter blackness. But, it also explained, the intense heat of the fire itself was the only thing that could pop the pinecone and thus release the seeds within it. Those seeds would then carry on the breezes of the blaze and would settle in the charred remains left behind. There, in the black but highly fertile soil, new forest growth would begin, in a tender but persistent way.
And so it was that I reflected upon this and the meaning it brought to my own state of devastation, ripe and fertile for new growth and direction.
I drove home from that trip and passed a blackened and scorched section of forest from a previous forest fire. As I looked closer, I saw in the lower areas of it the bright green beginnings of new forest life. I returned home with new hope and understanding about the cycle of life and living and our place inside it.
Be prepared for things to end and take comfort that a new beginning will subsequently begin. Nature can teach us a lot about who we are and how we can be better aligned with ourselves and the world we all live in and share. Yes we all miss people in our lives, but the more we miss them, the more we can be assured that our lives were better for having known them.
And that is the lasting gift of them that they brought to us, and that which we feel deep within ourselves, when missing someone.
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Assit Ed: J. Andersson/Ed: Sara Crolick
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