Some may wonder how I could possibly say that I feel blessed to have lost a loved one. Let me first say, that it’s not that I feel blessed that my loved one passed. Of course not. Like most people who have lost a loved one, I would trade almost anything for just one more day with them. One more hug. One more whiff of their scent. One more look into their loving eyes. One more moment to tell them just how much they mean to me, how much I love them. But that’s not possible.
What I mean is that I’m blessed to have had the experience of losing someone I love because there is no lesson like it. It teaches a person how to love everyone else in their lives to the fullest.
When I was only twenty years old I lost a young man who I loved very much. He was kind, and gentle, and funny. We dated off and on for many years and I learned a lot from him. I’m still learning from him. The problem was that I was young, and naïve. and quite frankly, troubled. I wanted love and to be loved in return desperately, but I had no idea how to do that. So, I played immature games that caused both of us heartache. I pushed him away when I wanted to pull him closer. And worst of all, I never once told him how much I loved him.
I was scared.
Then one day one of my best friends called and broke the news. He’d been killed in an accident.
This was the first time I’d ever experienced death of someone so close to me and I was in no way prepared for the heartache that followed. To say my heart broke is a gross understatement. It felt as if my entire chest wall cracked open so that my insides were open and vulnerable to the world. I was bleeding. I was inconsolable. It hurt so bad I thought I might break into a thousand pieces.
The loss consumed me. The guilt was unbearable. All I could think about was how I had wasted every moment we’d ever had together. How if I had just one more moment I would cherish it, make the most of it. I’d look longer. Smell deeper. Listen better. Appreciate more. And for the love of God, I’d tell him how much I adored him.
That kind of pain will humble a person. You find yourself lying awake at night with a lump in your throat trying not to cry but you’re choking on regret. You relive moments you had with that person clinging to what you once had. You want one more day. One more hour. One more minute. Anything. But no matter how hard you wish for it, it will never be. That time has come and gone. You had your chance.
So why do I say I feel blessed to have had this experience? Because now, when I love someone, I hold nothing back. If I’m with them and feel a surge of love for them swell up in my chest. I tell them. I pay attention to special moments we have together. I don’t play games because I have no idea when or if I will see them the next day. I watch the way they talk, the way they laugh. I compliment them on things they do or the way they look so that they feel good and feel appreciated. I make sure they know beyond a shadow of a doubt how I feel about them. They deserve that. I deserve that.
You can always spot the people who have yet to suffer through such a loss. They’re the couples who seem to have forgotten the depth of their love for one another, who seem unappreciative or maybe even oblivious to their partner’s needs and desires. They’re the ones who make less effort in their relationships, take less time to make their loved one feel special. They’ve forgotten how to compliment and nurture.
I feel bad for them. I feel bad because I know the sad truth. They may not ever appreciate what they have until it’s gone. And then it’s too late. What’s sad about it, is that it doesn’t have to be that way. People can love fully before they lose their loved one, before time runs out. It takes putting away ego and letting go of fears. It takes waking up every day and feeling true gratitude in your heart for the people in your life that you love. Then you must do more than that. You must show it. You must make them feel it. Easier said than done, I know. It’s work. But it’s a lot easier than living with a lifetime of regret.
So when I say I feel blessed to have lost a loved one, it is not said lightly. It is said because I’m grateful to have learned such a powerful lesson so that I may love the people in my life the way they deserve to be loved. It truly is a hidden blessing.