I recently had an in depth conversation with someone on death. More specifically on those we love who are taken too soon. We’re both believers in God so we spent time talking about grief, anger, lack of understanding and the way others respond as they try and hold you up.
I knew before I went to bed Sunday night that I would write my column on this topic. The title had come to me before I drifted to sleep.
Ironically this conversation happened a handful of hours before the tragic massacre in Las Vegas.
In life there are no coincidences.
I don’t intend to use this to try and make sense of the Vegas tragedy, that’s not possible.
I do however intend to share a bit of our conversation which sadly now dozens of other families must face. Lives taken too soon, too young, so much left to offer this world – senseless … So confusing. How do you wrap your mind around lives taken too soon? Personally that’s an easy answer – you don’t.
We each however (if lucky) find a way to cope, move on and deal with the loss of an early life loss.
During the conversation, we discussed the varying things people say to try and comfort those grieving. During this time, we explored the notion of those who offer the “there’s a reason” philosophy. For some, this idea makes sense – it doesn’t for us.
As we explored the “why” attached to the mindset of there’s a reason, I shared what might be perceived as the flipside of this, yet has often brought me comfort.
I have a strong belief that we were each placed here for a purpose. What that means exactly for each and every one of us is different. When it comes to loss, however, especially for someone before their time, that helps comfort me.
I think back to the life of the individual, their spirit, laughter, heart or their drive – the lessons learned just by watching them do life. More often than not, those lost too soon are some of the most amazing people we know. I don’t believe that’s by accident. Does it make sense? No. Can we learn from it? I sure hope so.
I feel important to state here, I’m not so naïve and rainbows and butterflies that I don’t recognize the senselessness and great void this leaves a family who is robbed of a young life. Trust me; over 25 years later, I still grieve the loss of a best friend. You just can’t shake that type of loss.
I do, however, often tell her story and how her passing changed me for the better. I no longer hold words of love, let moments go by without giving a hug or let myself get too far down a pity party road – days are indeed precious and fragile.
Perhaps that was her purpose, to teach myself and people like me the valuable lesson of life’s great gifts. To wake us up a bit to see life is indeed too short and we don’t get days back. Perhaps her purpose was to touch mine, or one of the many other persons who attended her celebration of life service 25-plus years ago and recognize we never know what the day holds. I truly don’t know.
What I do know, is that when senseless passing occurs my mind never wraps to “there’s a reason.” My mind … no my mind immediately reflects on the person, who they were, what they stood for, how they loved and how fragile life truly is.
Much will be learned in the coming days, weeks and months about the Las Vegas massacre. Even more will be debated and people will become angry with one another as it will undoubtedly take a political turn.
My position is simple, rather than become angry and disrespectful with one another, perhaps it’s best to think a bit harder on the purpose. There is indeed lesson in every life occurrence, as a society what can we gain from those who are no longer here to speak their truth. How can we honor those lives lost?
One thing I know for sure, honor does not come through hate and misunderstanding, but through love and kindness. Here’s to learning our purpose. God Bless.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.