I recently had lunch with a friend, a man in his early seventies. He told me that many people from his high school class had either died or were very sick. He was shocked at the suddenness and “overwhelmingness” of it all. I want to use the example of his situation to make some suggestions about losing friends as we age.
We have all heard of the truism that death is part of life. It’s true, yet it is necessary to repeat it. Some people in their youth have direct experience of death, with a family member or a pet dying. Many of us don’t, and we don’t know how to deal with that loss. If you are religiously observant, you can go to your place of worship and find solace in belief, ritual, prayer, and support. Many do not have this cushion. Instead, we see people disappearing from around us.
There are some provisions we can make. The first is to realize that this life is precious. We should not take it for granted. We should hug our loved ones—family and friends—all the time, telling them that we love them and care for them. We should contact people who have been part of our past. They may want our contact, even if they haven’t reached out first.
As we deal with sickness and dying, we should take care of ourselves. That means doing something good for ourselves whenever we can. It means enjoying life. Our loved ones – family, friends, lost contacts — would still want us to enjoy life. It’s a means of honoring them, as well.
If you find yourself at a loss, join a local grief group. Your area hospice or funeral home may know of available ones in your area. If the deaths start to shake you too much, go to therapy. And, by the way, some hospitals and some agencies have specialized therapy just for those people experiencing the past, or possible future loss, of a significant person in their life.