Here’s a poem I wrote back when I was only sending newsletters. I started sending out newsletters but then started writing poetry. I’m not sure how it happened, but here we are. I hope I remember to dig out all of these.
When a person departs
They set a time
For them to arrive
At the start of something new.
They say when someone dies
A clock stops.
I used to go around changing
To give them more time.
But their dying moment would still arrive
Marked by a chime.
Listen to what their life has wrought
In the peace that you have sought
Was their life all for naught
Or was there victory in how they fought?
You will find that time will tell
And ring the heart of another bell
You will find yourself not in hell
But in the heaven of the well.
I hate the words “I’m sorry for your loss.” Apologize not for a life that is well lived. Celebrate it. Even if their final moments were filled with pain, that could be something that you don’t know as the truth. It could be that in their final moments they were happy with all that they’ve done. I don’t know.
I want to let you know that everything is going to be ok. That even if you’ve lost a dear friend, it will be ok. When I was in the pit of darkness and I couldn’t get out, there was still a voice that told me that I could. And when I lifted by eyes upwards I saw the hearts of people above me, surrounding me, and lifting me up towards the sky.
I knew then that it was not about the time that they had spent on the earth, but it was about the impact that they had. Oh, yes, that is what I learned. That death is a journey we must all take, that we must sometimes lose others too soon. That we are fragile and helpless at the same time we are strong and powerful. That we don’t have control but we have choice. That we can do anything if we wanted to.
That we will always miss them forever.
I want to let you know that I feel your pain, your sadness, your loss. I feel it in the way that it strikes deep in my heart because we are all connected in the way that we love. That I cannot understand the same thing, but that I can feel the same thing.
I’m not sorry for your loss. I’m too much of an optimist to say it. I want you to look at the life you’ve created for yourself and the life that you have lived. You are living their life even if they are no longer living. You have created a community around you that itself has its own life, unified by a common purpose to bring joy to the world.
So do not be sorry. I want you to be sad and confused, maybe even a little hopeful. But do not be sorry.
When an Olympic athlete went down in the first minute of the race, when he was trampled in the head, when a pole went through his race number and he broke one of his own, he was not sorry. He got up and continued the race. As he started up again someone ran by him and gave him a new pole. He went from last place to first place, which means he went on to earn gold.
There is victory in your loss. Don’t forget it.
Photo by Johannes Plenio