My friend Trish's mother passed away over night. She died peacefully in her sleep, but it was still a shock. When I first read the news... I was immediately sympathetic, but later, as I thought about it, I realized that I was also empathetic. And that was a graceful moment. From my own experience, I had been taught how to care for others. I've had a lot of death in my life. And when I explain myself to people I tell them that I do death and funerals really well because I've had a lot of experience. While this sounds like a sad situation, it also means that I have loved lots of wonderful people. It also means that I know how to mourn. I have learned a deep understanding of why it's important to live in the moment and to love those around you while you can.
It doesn't matter how old you are, losing your parents is tough. My father died in 1999 and my mother in 2004. I remember thinking (after Mom's passing) that I was now an orphan. Even at 36 years old I felt alone in the world. (I remember thinking I should put myself up for adoption on eBay.) I guess we really never outgrow being our parents' kid.
I know Trish's pain, and for that I can honestly say that I am grateful. The experience has taught me how to be a better friend. I understand her pain... and also know that this too shall pass. We are forever changed by the people we love. People only have meaning to us if we are transformed in some way by our relationship with them. For Trish, her memories are now painful reminders. But eventually, they will transform to bring her joy. Only someone who's been there can understand.