Four years ago, I wrote this post.
I have lost people I loved, but, more often, I have watched other people lose loved ones.
When this particular lady’s husband died, I remember the visitation quite clearly. The look of defeat on her face. Her grief was evident for a very long time.
She and her husband were “#couplegoals”, as the kids say. I was so very touched by her loss.
This lady, and I say “lady” because she is one of the classiest, most professional women I’ve ever worked with, retired at the end of last year. I could tell how excited she was to start a new chapter in her life.
We had an event at our office yesterday that she attended. I haven’t seen her since her retirement. She stepped over to my office to speak, and there was pure joy radiating from her.
I asked her how she was enjoying retirement, and she proceeded to tell me all about her travels. Then she said, “And I’m getting married in December!”
It’s not unusual for a living spouse to remarry after their partner passes away. It happens all the time. But this time, with this woman, her very happiness about it was contagious.
She told me about how she and her fiancé’s engagement came about. How it was something she wasn’t looking for and something she never expected. “He says I make him very happy.” And he does the same for her.
This unexpected moment of shared excitement was as touching for me as the day I went to give her my condolences at the loss of her beloved husband. My assistant and I were in tears as we listened to her talk about the way her life had surprised her. She had learned, she said, to “never say never.”
I know this too. That just when you think life has kicked you as low as you can go, it can still surprise you. Still bring you back to a place of indescribable joy and restore a zest for living. I saw that in her as we spoke yesterday, and it was nothing short of inspiring.
I think, often, about the loved ones I have lost. My cousin, in particular, because he was so very young. In a couple of short months, the anniversary of his death will arrive, and bring with it, as it always does, those familiar feelings of sadness and loss.
This lady told me yesterday that she had recently visited her husbands grave. Alone. And the feelings and memories and grief washed over her again. Unexpectedly. She was in a new place of joy and hope in her life, but she realized, in that moment, that it would always exist alongside the loss of her husband.
And that was a poignant realization for me.
Grief is a strange thing. How it changes us. How it’s always lurking underneath the surface of our lives, even when we’re happy.
She told her fiancé about her experience at the graveside and he told her, “I would have gone with you.”
She said this surprised her. That he would walk in her grief with her, even as they shared a new beginning, together.
And I think that’s also an important truth, for those who have shouldered heavy grief. The knowing that there are those who will walk that road with us. Even after the loss has faded from the memories of others.
The truth that newfound happiness and joy doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten our loved ones, we’ve simply found new ways and new people to remember them.
People talk all the time about what our departed would have wanted for those who are still living. But for those that were kind, and selfless, I believe those people are right when they say, “They would have wanted you to be happy.”
We are all connected. And the joy we experience after grief, I believe, is shared with those who are no longer physically with us. In this great cosmic connection of love, I believe they can feel our joy. And I believe it must bring them joy also.
The light of their memory shines on the path before us, always. I believe those loved ones cheer us on from the great beyond. And smile.