Life. And death ..

We all know that someday, the inevitable will come.  Right?  With life, comes death.  But it’s amazing, isn’t it, how the loss of someone we love, at times even those we don’t know, absolutely rocks us at our very core.  Life for a moment, a day, weeks on end.. stands still while we see the rest of the world still spinning.  It is one of the most surreal experiences I believe we can ever go through.  Yet it is very real.  And I believe, it is often at that point, the meaning of life shifts for each of us.  If we let it.  Death forces us to truly look at what might be more important than we ever thought it was in life.   There is a shift.


I have lost – what seems for my age – far too many that I am close to.   Immediate family.  Dear friends.  Colleagues.  To suicides.  Accidents.  Heart disease.  Cancer.

It has reshaped how I live my life, how I try to spend my time, how I try to speak to those in particular, that I love and what I view as important throughout the course of any given day.

Yet, when I see someone else affected by a loss of their own, trying to find the right words is never easy.  And it seems right now, there are many I know, experiencing a loss.

I posted what is below, today on Facebook and it seemed to strike a chord.  I wanted to share it again here, as it doesn’t seem these words are widely known or easy to find (I found her poem in the book, What I Wish for You).  Yet they are some of the more powerful, poignant and beautiful I’ve ever seen:


“Was looking for something – something that I might say to comfort a few friends and family who’s hearts are incredibly heavy right now. Came across this. And wanted to share.
By Amy Ludwig Van Derwater

When sorrow comes
to those you love
stay close.

When sadness is
more powerful than words
more powerful than deeds
your warm hand
your quiet company
your self in a chair
saying nothing
will be a gift.

You may wonder
“What can I do?”
There may be
you can do.

You may wish
to run
Do not run.

Hold hands.
Eat soup.
Trace a sunbeam
with your fingers
on the table.

Let yourself smile.
Let yourself cry.

When sorrow comes
to those you love
stay close.

When sorrow comes
to you
let others
stay close too.

4 thoughts on “Life. And death ..

  1. You know my story, Carleen. I’m one of the lucky few who was given a second chance… a new life. But, there was a night, a few days after brain surgery, that I was certain that something terrible had gone wrong; I was certain that whatever it was, I was dying. Not in the sense that I saw the oft reported “life flash before my eyes”, but that I felt, “Okay… this is it.” I’d had a severe temperature spike, and staff got it controlled. It was the most scared I’ve ever been (or likely will ever be) in my life, and it changed me forever. It made me realize how temporary life really is, and how necessary it was for me to start appreciating things that had become so common that I’d taken them for granted. That’s all 25-years ago now, but the experience changed how I feel about life, and made me think about something I’d been able to avoid all my life… death. Like you, I’ve lost loved family and friends; like you, I’ve struggled with what to do and what to say. But my emotional experience has led me to the thoughts reflected in the poem you posted. There’s nothing I can do to “fix” the loss a death has bestowed on someone I care about; someone I love. The best I can do is, “Hey… I’m sorry. I can’t make it better. But I’m here for you. Here’s my shoulder. I’ll cry with you” As far as facing death goes; I used to get into these deep discussion about death with a guy at work. I’d tell him that, if told I had X-number of days to live, I THOUGHT I could deal with it. I thought I’d be able to say, “I’m a really lucky guy; I’ve had a great life; I’ve had a second chance at life; I’m ready.” That’s what I’ve said I THOUGHT I could think. I hope I’m right. The thoughts you’ve provoked in me, I could go on forever about, Carleen. But I won’t.

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