I had intended to write this week about a lighter topic and word—DORK. Unfortunately the reality inherent to the experience and the word itself, grief, struck fast and furiously. And as is often the case unexpectedly.

I’ve just returned from perhaps one of the most emotional and inspirational memorials I’ve ever attended. It was the celebration of the life of not only a dear friend, but also an educator extraordinaire, mentor, trailblazer, and visionary. The community is reeling. This truly is an irreplaceable loss. All whom knew him walk with a slower step and a heavier heart today and we will for many days to come. As such, today’s word is GRIEF.

Grief hits like a sledge hammer–or in some instances as a piano dropped from a ten-story building– leaving us paralyzed in disbelief, depression, sadness, or shock.

There are many forms of grief and many reasons for the occurrence—but today I want to talk about grief associated with an untimely, unexpected, and sudden death. Grief associated with the loss of a light that shone brightly in the world that was extinguished too soon and without notice. Like a falling star, the light blessed us with its glory and then was gone all too soon. And selfishly we want more. We were not read yet for its departure.

We become numb. At least I know that I do. We become filled with a watershed of memories of the person, their mannerisms, their speech inflections, how they touched our lives, how they influenced the world and the lives of others. We have regrets regarding the things we meant to, yet never said, the experiences we planned to share, yet now never will have the chance, of the future jokes we’d both laugh at and even the tears we’d share.

So how does one deal with grief?

Curl up in a ball? Drown oneself in booze? Push it out of focus, mind, and thought? Dismiss it by diving into distractions and work? Or do we embrace it and experience it fully? I know that I’ve done all of the above, for better or for worse, and I am pretty sure the majority of you reading this have too.

Because when a loved one dies, a part of us dies or at least wishes we had. Cliché I know. But nonetheless true. The loss creates a vast void. One that never can be filled.

How we deal with it of course is individualized and unique. Over the years, starting with the death of my best friend in a sledding accident in third grade, I have experienced a lot of death and loss. I have spanned the gamut of emotions associated with grief—both destructive and constructive. I have tried to make sense of it as do we all.

I have let go and moved on knowing that this was not the first time grief touched my life nor will it be the last.

I have also tried to find a way to process it that helps me and which hopefully can be of use and insight for you as well. I created an acronym–the one at the top of this page–enabling me to hold the person and lessons and the loss of that person not only my heart but also in my life as an example of how to live and why to live.

That is how to transform grief into a powerful tribute.

Because the ones who affect our lives and craft who and what we are never leave us. They live on though the unique expressions of all whom crossed paths with them.

Grief is a part of life. We mourn. We cry. We share memories. Then we transcend and live as best we can as homage to the ones we grieved. For just as all the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle, death cannot dwindle the imprint one left upon others, upon this earth.


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