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A Change of Mind

A dear friend died recently and it hit me right between the eyes that my attitude about our customs surrounding death might be necessary. I realized I needed to re-think my attitude about the whole concept of how we handle death in our culture. Because of the long distance between us, I was unable to attend any get together with others regarding the death of my friend. I felt alone in my grief.

I'm sure that my bereft loneliness could have increased, except for the fact that the internet connected many of us who loved this person. We were able to share our bereavement in a social network. I saw wonderful comments about my friend, I learned how others experienced him in their lives. I saw another side of him, and I smiled. I watched a slide show presented by his dearest loved one, pictures I had never seen before. Pictures that showed my friend in happy times with his friends, including me, and in beautiful scenery he had once enjoyed.

I ranted not too long ago about death and funerals, about how some cultures celebrate death, how our culture treats it differently: death is a sad, bad thing, to be avoided, to be made more acceptable by making things pretty. I ranted that I wanted my death to be celebrated, that I didn't want flowers and you better give me flowers now, not when I'm dead.

Because of the death of this dear friend so close to the timing of my rant, I have had a revelation which has given me a different opinion, nearly a full turn around on the subject.

It doesn't seem so unacceptable to me anymore. I can now truly say, with all my heart, to the family and others who loved my friend, "I'm sorry for your loss. Please accept my condolences."

Rest in Peace, my dear friend. I shall miss you immensely, though I believe from the depths of me you are just a whisper away.


  1. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend, Elizabeth.

  2. Ahh Elizabeth...you said it so well.I think about dying,too often, and I do think about how I want to be remembered...in what style...I think I will just leave that to the ones left behind, though.I trust that however they want to remember me will be the best way..I am so sorry for your loss. And it's so great to be able to change your mind in style !

  3. I understand your pain and without someone to talk to whether online or in person can be terrible.

    I am so glad you had contacts to remember and grieve with online! I hope that your memories and friends will walk you through this really difficult time. Peace to you in this time of grief.

  4. I am sorry for your loss, Elizabeth. I am remembering my Uncle Odes today, it's his birthday. He passed away almost two years ago with cancer. I'm also celebrating my son Matthew's ninth birthday today.
    My thoughts are with you.

  5. Dear Elizabeth,

    It is lovely to see those photos of dear Lenny in happier healthier days. His death hit me hard too. I am still in shock.

    I was sorting through some old emails Lenny sent me, and re-reading them (in a bid to feel connected to him after his death) and I found one he had written after my father died ~ when I was grieving. He told me how he and his family kept his mother alive in their thoughts, after her death. He said:

    "My sisters, brother and I keep my Mom alive in our thoughts and conversations, repeating her favorite phrases, recounting good and bad times - somehow this seems to preserve her an active participant in our lives. Yes, sometimes we cry - but as time passes we have great laughs over the good times and the wound from the loss is healing. That is the way my Mom would have wanted it"

    Lenny concluded that he realized that:

    "maybe it was OK to grieve! Maybe I should embrace that "empty"
    feeling rather than agonize over it. I realized that no one could
    ever fill the space in my heart that my Mother had occupied, and...
    in truth I really didn't want anyone else to invade that space. I realized that she was still there in my thoughts, love and memories and I wouldn't give them up for anyone."

    This seems so very important now as we grieve for Lenny. He would want us to talk about him, remember him, quote him. And he would expect us to grieve and keep that space in our heart that is reserved just for Lenny ~ for no one else can fill it. It is his, for eternity.

    So(as Lenny would want) I am going to end this comment with a Lenny quote. He used to say:

    "Act in black and white,
    Think in shades of gray,

    Oh how my heart misses this dear and lovely man. The world was a nicer place when he was in it.

    Jan xx


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