I recently had a visit from one of my best friends. We have kept in touch since 8th grade. That was a long time ago. People are amazed at how well we nurtured our friendship. When Cory was really ill Michael helped me get enough money together to fly down and spend a few days recharging my batteries with him in Las Vegas. He did that many times. Michael also met the kids and I in San Diego and LA a few times when we were down visiting Disneyland and relatives. He took us to the La Brea Tar Pits. Great memories. We wrote to each other. The kids I baked Christmas cookies every year and mailed them to wherever Michael was living at the time. He was so supportive throughout Cory’s illness. And in happier times, I asked Michael to be my best man in my wedding 30 years ago. What a great friend he still is to this day.
Michael was looking at the photographs I have on my hallway wall. His voice caught when he noticed my son’s photo right there with the rest of my family. He asked if I thought about him every day. I replied, “yes, every single day. I miss him. Sometimes it feels like he was just here and other days it feels like a lifetime ago.” We both teared up. That’s the way it is with grief though. When someone you love dies there is a void in your heart forever. You get used to the pain and you kind of get used to not seeing him or her after a while. But you miss the ability to interact with a physical being and I personally miss speaking with my son, my mom, my brother, and all those who have already crossed over the rainbow bridge. I am sure that is true for everyone. Although I have to admit, I still talk to them.
In my grief workshops I always encourage folks to write letters to the person they are grieving on that day. It really does help to get your thoughts and feelings down on paper. I also encourage people to journal about their grief journey. And if they are inclined to write a poem about the qualities of the deceased loved one. It can be a small yet powerful tribute to him or her too. The easiest is a “list” poem. For example, mine says things such as, “Cory was funny. Cory was mischievous. Cory was a great big brother. Cory loved to play soccer. Cory loved dressing up for Halloween. Cory was brilliant. Cory was courageous. Cory loved me. Cory was my son.” Try it – writing down the words that describe your feelings about and to your loved one/s is powerful and it just might help you. I hope it does.
Nurture your friendships. Always let those you love know how special they are to you. Use your words. You can always use a good friend in happy times and sad ones too.
Shirley Enebrad is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist with 25 years of experience. For her many years of work with pediatric cancer patients and those grieving the loss of a loved one, she received the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service and the Angel of Hospice Award. She is the author of Six-Word Lessons on Coping with Grief and Six-Word Lessons for Surviving a Devastating Diagnosis.
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