Now What?

It's inevitable. At some point in the course of our lives, we get that call. It's the call we know will come someday, but someday is never today. On the other end of the phone, someone is calling to tell us that someone we love has died.

Chances are, the call comes from someone we also love and who is also having to process their own response to the call they just made.

Now what?

There is no correct answer to that question. What's correct for me, won't necessarily be correct for anyone else.

One of my earliest memories is about death. I'm not sure how old I was - 4 or 5 - when my grandfather's sister, Aunt Patsy, passed away. She was sick. I remember being told that she was in the hospital. And I remember seeing her face in the newspaper, reading the obituary and asking why no one told me that she died. It was more surprising to the folks in the room that I was able to read the words than that I had some knowledge about what it meant to die.

I'm not sure how or why I was already so aware of that at such a young age, but I was.

Since then, death has come more times than I care to recall - family members, friends, loved ones of friends, coworkers, celebrities - each time the notification comes in a measured way so as not to intentionally create additional pain. And then there it is. . . plain, sad, shocking (even when we're prepared) death.

Sometimes the news affects us in ways we don't anticipate. Perhaps we're sadder than we expected, or not as sad as we expected. 

So what now? What do we do when we hear those words? And how do we respond in a way that doesn't make it all about us and how we feel?

We feel inclined to share the news - especially for those who might have also had a connection to the deceased and would care to know the news. We feel inclined to share so that we don't carry our own grief, in whatever form it comes, alone. We want someone else to know, and pray, and cry, and care, and grieve with us.

How do we prepare ourselves for the news that will come someday when someday is today?

Yesterday, I got a call from someone I love telling me that someone else I love had died. There was no time to prepare my heart for the sadness of such expected news. There was no way for me to gear up to be present with others suffering the same loss. And yet each of us did. We steadied ourselves and showed up. 

We hugged and cried and mourned together. We will remember together. We will recover together. We will continue to live together. We will go on together.

And you, my friend, reading this today - how will you prepare yourself for the news that will come someday before someday is today? That's the #biglifequestion for today. It's a question that's bigger than I want to consider, but consider it we must. I'm suggesting that you start the morbid game of "what happens with Aunt Sue dies?" I'm rather suggesting that you begin, or continue a honest conversation with yourself about how you handle death - not in a Will and Testament, Power of Attorney kind of way - although that's important too. I'm suggesting that you have a conversation with your intellectual and spiritual and emotional self about how you respond when someone you love has died. Have the conversation now, so that when someday is today, your response is already prepared.

 

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