In every goodbye, there is a hello, and for every person who passes, a new child is born. Despite being a part of the circle of life, death never fails to leave us devastated. When one woman on Reddit was struggling to cope with the death of her best friend, she didn’t know what to do. Luckily an old man was on hand with the perfect words.
Grieving a loved one tears a hole in your heart and the pain can be so great that you don’t know how you’ll ever smile again. But take it from the words of people who have loved and lost time and again to put things in perspective.
On Reddit, an online forum community, a woman asked for advice on how to cope with the grief of losing her best friend.
My friend died. I don’t know what to do.
Members of Reddit shared their individual experiences of losing loved ones and how they cope with the grief, but one particular comment stood out from the rest. A self-confessed old man gave a beautiful and honest response that has left readers sobbing with both sorrow and hope. The old man’s response has gone viral with people all over relating to his touching analogy.
Here are his heartfelt words – be sure to have a tissue on hand…
How to cope with the grief of losing a loved one
“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to ‘not matter.’ I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it.
Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
The shipwreck analogy
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out.
But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Coming out the other side
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself.
And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”
I warned you that you’d need a tissue…
Even though it hurts immeasurably when a loved one passes, it helps to hold on to the happy memories. If you grieve over someone, it means you were lucky enough to love them and have them in your life. Love and loss come hand in hand, but love always triumphs, even in the face of loss. I’m sure this man helped the woman cope with the grief of losing her friend that little bit more.
A coward is someone who is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave. – Mahatma Ghandi