When Life Blindsides Us


There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.

~Washington Irving~

Yesterday we were enjoying the Florida sunshine and planning a cruise. We felt good about the day and about our lives. Then we received a phone call telling us of the sudden death of one of Carol’s cousins in her early forties. It was difficult for anyone to formulate a response. How do you react to the death of a beloved mother, wife, relative and friend? There are no words for it, just shared grief and attempts to comfort each other.

Even at seventy-six, I don’t think of my own death very often although it is much closer now than it has ever been in the past. I am not surprised when friends and relatives older than me die. After I get over my grief, I think back to the wonderful parts of their lives which I have shared with them. I am glad to have had them as a part of my life for as long as they lived. Memories of my favorite people linger and return to my awareness from time to time.

Now a wonderful woman half my age has died suddenly. This has again forced me to confront the mortality attached to each of our lives. I have admired her accomplishments as a mother, friend and school counselor. She helped me with my book for teens and showed great insight into the challenges facing children and adolescents. She was a good friend to many people who are struggling to find a way to accept her loss from their lives.

It is difficult to let go of people we love no matter how old they are. It is even harder to release from our lives vibrant, productive people we see as full of life. We think of what remained undone in their lives and what they could have accomplished if they lived longer. We take for granted that those we love will be with us at least for the foreseeable future. Yet there is no guarantee. Any one of us can die at any moment. Most of the time there remains unmet potential which could add to a person’s life accomplishment.

We have only so much opportunity to accomplish what we can, bring joy to those around us and contribute what we can to human history and to the memories we leave behind. We often ask why someone dies before we are ready to let them go. There is no good answer to this question. But there is a lesson for us. The only thing we can be sure of is what we are doing at the moment. It is up to each of us to use the opportunity to live life in the best way we can. Memories of how we lived our lives are the legacy we leave behind to inspire those who go on to live after us. Thank you Liz for sharing your life with us.

Joseph G. Langen is the author of eleven books: Commonsense Wisdom for Everyday Life, Young Man of the Cloth, Navigating Life, The Pastor’s Inferno, Release Your Stress and Reclaim Your Life, Make the Best of Your Teen Years, From Violence to Peace, How to Transform your Anger, How to Find Peace, What to Do About Violence and Stress Briefly Noted. See more about his writing at http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-G.-Langen/e/B008TWW8M4/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Contact him at: jglangen@gmail.com

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