Saturday, January 24, 2015

Family Friends Faith and Funerals

During the past five weeks I have witnessed the most incredible combination of grief, loss, friendship and support, all centered around the deaths of two people I don't even know.

A dear friend's ex-husband's mother died in December.  Exactly a month later (yesterday), the ex-husband died.

The timing is remarkable. I don't know if it's God or fate, but the mother (age 96) died before having to see the son (age 64) die, then the son dies a few months before his own son's wedding.  It all seems to have lined up is some cosmic sequence. That whole 'blessing in disguise' thing.


I'm spiritual but not religious, but many people in this family have strong religious beliefs and their faith is helping them get through it. What I do have faith in is the ability of people to come together and help each other solve problems; and I have faith in the power of friendship, family and community.
Tears were shed, of course. Most were from sadness, loss and shock. My tears are both from the joy of seeing all of this support and my sadness because my own circle is so small and somewhat remote. I have friends, good friends, but nothing like this. Most of my best friends live hundreds and thousands of miles away and most of my family lives a thousand miles away. My involvement with the family I'm writing about is growing and they have made me feel like I am part of their circle. At the same time, I am sad that I have done so relatively little to maintain my own circle.

The friends and family of my dear friend have rallied in extraordinary ways ... food, phone trees, 'stay here tonight', 'what can we do', taking donations to help pay for the funeral ... it goes on and on. I'm teary eyed just describing this.
I view nearly every observation in my life as a learning opportunity, so what have I learned during the past five weeks?  Alcoholism robs people of their goodness then it kills them, close friendships can develop quickly but deep friendships take decades, friendship and family relationships are priceless, funerals cost a fortune.

What actions will I take, based in what I've learned? I will reach out to far-flung friends and family and stay in touch with them better, I will set aside money for my own end, I will write up my will and advance directives and I will concentrate more on living for today. I will also try to find a way to help others get through situations like this.

I also think it's time to revisit my view of faith.

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