Over the past several years there have been many of us who have dealt with tragedy and loss: with everything from illness, to injuries, to the loss of loved ones. Some have shared their losses openly with those around us, such as I did with the death of my best friend Steve Gasser a few years ago; some have shared their stories of loss with their friends and their coworkers; and some have kept their situations private and coped with it on their own. Regardless of how we have dealt with it, most all of us have had to go through the loss of loved ones and dealt with tragedy in our life, and with the Memorial Day holiday it certainly brings those losses to the front of our minds with great soberness.
As we visited two cemeteries today to deliver flowers to the graves of lost loved ones, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the number of people there paying their respects to the ones they have lost. You could see that each of them dearly missed the person who was laid to rest there. And even though I didn’t recognize the faces of the people standing at the gravesides of their lost loved ones, it felt as though we were already bonded to one another by the sheer fact that each of us shared the feelings of loss, and each of us understood the heartfelt emotions of the other as if we had been lifelong friends. As we stood in that cemetery we were a community.
I am grateful for the Memorial Day holiday. I am grateful that there has been a day set aside to remind us to focus on those we have lost. But today I was most grateful for the reminder of the importance of a community – it was a reminder that we should all reach out to those around us who may be struggling with loss or hard times in their lives. We are a community that has the ability to support one another, to comfort one another, to lift one another up and help each other on our way. We have the ability to truly touch one another’s lives for the better here. We should never let that opportunity pass us by. We should remember to look out for one another. We should be caring citizens in our communities that we are blessed to be a part of.
When my friend Steve died, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that people showed to me. The kind words, the poems, the smiles, the hugs, and people’s willingness to let me write about my feelings each day and the comments of support that followed from so many. I cannot even describe how much that support meant to me at that time in my life. I had never dealt with any kind of loss at that level before and I can honestly say that the people that supported me made a huge impact in my ability to go forward and to stay strong at a time I wanted to curl up in a ball and give up. A community of great people did that for me in my life. So I know the power that exists amongst the people in our communities at work or in our neighborhoods or in our religious groups. There is power when a community bands together to watch out for each other. It is something we all need to remember to do for each other.
All of us can impact one another’s lives for the better. All of us can leave a legacy of love to everyone who ever steps into our community. That community should include everyone from neighbors, to coworkers, to clients, to vendors, and anyone else our paths cross throughout our day. Let’s all commit to be there to support one another as best we can through loving words, smiles, encouragement, nice hand written notes, small gestures, whatever we can do to help each other get through the hard times in our lives.
When our own lives pass I hope that every one of us will have lived up to having the phrase “Loved By All Who Knew Him/Her” engraved on our place of rest.