What Dreams May Come - Dealing with death & what to learn from it
“Someday you're gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You'll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing...”
A few weeks ago I lost a dear friend of mine. It was an unexpected death that came as swiftly as autumn did. And, just like autumn, it was a cold, harsh wind that blew every hint of warmth away from all of us.
Death does that to you. It sweeps you off your feet, and steps on your superhero cape, preventing you from getting back up. And you feel that it's both unjust to you, that you aren't able to fly anymore, and even more so that Death took his cape altogether.
When we first became the circle of friends we are today we were youths barely out of high school, none of us really ready for adulthood. Some of us have known each other since we were kids, others of us just happened to be at the right place at the right time. We got drunk and did dumb stuff teenagers usually do, went on vacations, and celebrated each other’s birthdays. We shared both good times and bad, long memorable nights and nights most don’t really even remember anymore. We were a beautiful image of youth - we still are. But a piece of the puzzle is missing, and it's hard to accept that we will never fill that hole again.
Mourning is never the same for everyone. Some freeze in their tracks, unable to think or feel, while others drown in a sadness that’s hard to shake. Some manage to get through their days until a memory creeps up and changes everything and some manage to suppress it completely. Then there are those who get manic, whose minds are conflicted and unable to decide on what to feel.
The only common thing when dealing with death is the different aspects of mourning we all go through, even if they’re experienced differently. Denial, sadness, anger, frustration, acceptance and gratitude.
The minutes that comes right after hearing terrible news usually consists of all of them, twirling around your head like a tornado, and nothing else matters. Denial is the first emotion to take over you – it’s too much to comprehend, too surreal to imagine. Then you face it, feel the reality of it, and sadness becomes the lens in which you see the world through.
Then the anger comes, anger towards life, God, faith, whatever you may believe in, and how that person didn’t deserve to lose their life. Frustration mixes with the anger, and you ask yourself if you could have done more. The voice in your head might yell at you for not doing enough, even though you never could have.
Then acceptance of the situation, the most difficult step to take along the way. It is what it is, and there’s nothing to do about it.
Then comes the only beautiful thing that can happen in such a situation- the moment you wake up and become grateful for everything around you, the things around you, people and places, things the deceased one will never again experience. You look back and remember the good times, and understand that happiness is the only thing that person would want you to go through.
You smile when you imagine their face instead of crying, because you’re grateful for caring about that person so much and getting the priviledge of having had them in your life.
As I am writing this, I am finally about to enter the stage of gratitude. The love I feel for my life, my family, my friends and everything else is uplifting and overwhelming, and every moment is cherished in one way or another. And even if I fought that feeling for a little while, not wanting such a tragic event to somehow end up being a milestone in my personal growth, I know that’s what he’d want it to be.
He was one of the warmest, kindest and pure people I’ve known, and while I mourn his passing every day, I’m still beyond grateful for the times we had – especially our late night conversations that would usually last until morning. Our chats about life, love and dreams over a shot of Sambuca and the distant sound of the rest of the party singing Don't Stop Believin' in the background - those moments will always have a special place in my heart, memories of a youth I will forever cherish. You were such a great part of our group of friends and always will be.
Mourning is a process that gives you a lesson in life. It throws you into a whirlwind of so many human emotions, and teaches you exactly that - what being a human is really about. You're facing death and life side by side, and especially for those of us who rarely face death, we have so much to learn from it. You know that you'll never forget the deceased one and always cherish and love them - but think about what they would have wanted. They would want you to be happy, to be free and at peace. So grow from it, learn from it, be grateful and change what you aren't satisfied With in life. But do not fear sadness or despair -they are part of the human condition, and through their darkness you'll become more appreciative of the light.
Love your friends and fellow humans. Let go of feelings of guilt or regret. Relax, and give your mind and body time to disconnect. Do something you’re afraid of as much as you can – being afraid and overcoming those fears will give you a feeling of empowerment that being safe never will. Dance and move your body before it becomes too old to move at all. Allow yourself to feel every emotion, even the bad ones, and let og of them when you’re ready for it – holding in emotions will only make you suffer until they burst out. Smile as much as you can. Find your own voice before you're too caught up in everybody else's that you can't hear it anymore. Don't spend your time on things you feel are a waste - time isn't everlasting, but dreams can be, so follow them while you can. Love freely and fearlessly. Don't fear infatuation - if it doesn't work out you'll eventually realize that the pain after was worth it for those moments that makes your heart skip.
Tell your family and friends how much you care about them every day, and cherish every memory you have with them – you never know which memory could be the last.