Learning from Death. Dealing with Loss.

Learning from Death. Dealing with Loss.

Losing someone can rip you apart. Leaving a gaping empty hole.

A hole that can’t be filled by another living being, because the person you lost is irreplaceable. But instead, with time, it fills with love, acceptance, healing, and strength.

I went through most of my life never experiencing loss, never understanding death, joyfully pretending we all live forever.

And then there was this drunk driver. She killed a man I used to care deeply for. And so I welcomed Death into my life, unwillingly. And we started to get acquainted.

And then Death wanted more. So She took my best friend. My soul mate. My everything. The girl who reflected my spirit in hers and who moved through life with me like water.

No warnings. No goodbyes.

From that I learned what it means to have your heart ripped out. What it feels like to cry as though you’ll never stop crying. What it’s like to sleep for days, just to escape being awake.

Death had moved into me. She took me over and invaded every cell in my body. She breathed out of me and right back in. Circulating, viciously.

Death’s nasty grip left me no choice but to carry Her with me. Everywhere.

In the beginning (and in the middle) I hated Her. Resented Her. But with time, I learned from Her. And so She changed from thief and villain to teacher.

I learned about love and friendship {the good ones, and the bad}. About embracing moments. About following my heart. About acting despite fears. About living with compassion and being bold. About never giving up. About taking chances and living colorfully. About seizing opportunities. About what matters, and what doesn’t. About gratitude. About boundaries and ownership, of my life. About me.

When my best friend came to me in a dream, a dream so real I could smell her hair as she hugged me, I learned that with death comes peace. She was her but magnified; radiating love and tranquility. As beautiful as ever yet more beautiful than ever. She told me that she’s okay now and that I’ll be okay too.

And with her assurances, I learned that souls move on. The love never fades and the story never ends. 

My husband and I recently suffered another personal loss. But I hardly cried. I felt the pain, hard, but I didn’t shatter. And I got out of bed. At first I wondered what’s come of me. Has my heart hardened to a fault. And has Death taken a permanent grip on my life. Will She ever let go.

But I see now, I’ve just transformed. With each death I aged, in wisdom. And I learned to take Life and Death, and all their lessons, and carry them with me (lovingly) as I move forward. Death has no vendettas, just more lessons to teach me, about life.

And when my time comes, I’ll know that I lived, fully. That I loved, ridiculously. That I gave, endlessly. And that nothing was ever taken for granted. Not one single day.

I’m not going to thank Death for the lessons, but She no longer feels like the enemy. Death just is.

Life. Death. And everything in between.

The in between just wouldn’t be as sweet without the beginning and the end

What has Death taught you? How have you grown from loss? Leave a comment below and share your experience.






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23 Responses to Learning from Death. Dealing with Loss.

  1. carl says:

    thank you Liz for sharing

    i am sorry for your losses

    they are touching words and empowering lessons. i hope to be as strong when faced with the same circumstances

    i hope you don’t have any more holes to fill for a while
    i admire how you have chosen to move forward

    thank you again for your words

  2. Bernardo says:

    Dearest Liz,

    I feel your pain as if it were my own, perhaps because I know too well that heart wrenching and bottom of the stomach helpless feeling of losing a loved one.

    I know there is meaning in death and that life itself is birth and death and yet as a human being who feels still get caught up on the world of form, on the impermanent, on the feeling of what I think should be, instead of what is.

    Then sometimes a dream (like yours) or a momentary awakened glimpse into what really is, brings peace and light and beauty to my life and that makes the pain disappear. Part of my daily mission now (thanks to death) is emptying my heart and giving myself completely and without reservations so when my moment to leave this earth comes, I can part in peace.

    Thank you for sharing this incredibly beautiful part of your heart and soul with us.
    Love you,

  3. Liz says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this Bern. Sounds like we’ve had similar experiences, however unique they might be. Heart wrenching, bottom of the stomach helpless, is exactly how I’d sum up that feeling. It’s amazing how deeply experiences like this can change your perspective on life. It’s too bad we often have to wait to learn the lessons the hard way.

    I’m truly sorry for your losses. I do see how you pour your heart into what you do and what you give. You make the world richer with your selflessness and you are clearly living it to the fullest, giving all that you are.

    So glad to have met you in this lovely online world.


  4. Paulette says:

    Thank you for writing so openly about death. It is something that people ignore, cover over, avoid…. and so, when you are in the midst of grief, your loss is amplified by the silence of the people around you. Very courageous for you to write. Thank you. I lost my soul mate brother two years ago. If you’d like, you can read about my journey at http://www.paulettepumpkinjohnson.blogspot.com. Look, especially, for the entry “assault”.

    • Liz says:

      Hey Paulette,

      I’m so sorry about your loss. Your brother Tom sounds like an amazing spirit and it’s beautiful how close you two were. And I’m sorry for the silence. It’s so hard for people to deal with things like this I think, people are so worried about saying the wrong things. Thanks for sharing your story here. My heart goes out to you.

  5. Lisa Consiglio Ryan says:

    Oh, my heart is so touched by this…I’m so sorry to hear about your losses, and the way you speak of our best friend. I can feel the pain you had while grieving. I feel as if Death and I really haven’t met yet. My grandparents, who I loved, died when I was young so I don’t really remember being sad. I did, however, have a miscarriage the first time I got pregnant. I was in my 12th week or so and I was devastated. But I think I learned what you mentioned in the post, that “souls move on.” Death isn’t an enemy…but a teacher.

    • Liz says:

      Thanks for your sweet words Lisa! I think looking for the lessons in things helps to bring comfort. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  7. Alana says:

    This is beautiful. I followed the trail from Hannah Marcotti to your pregnancy post to this. I think the conversations around life and death, birth and loss, pregnancy and depression, parenting and gentle acceptance need to be had often, with love. I send you wishes for a healthy, happy end to your pregnancy, a beautiful empowered birth (whatever that looks like for you and your husband) and the freedom to feel/grieve whatever arises.

    • Liz says:

      Thank you for such a beautiful comment Alana. We’re so excited for what’s to come. And I agree, I think these conversations need to happen more freely, always with love, so that there are less surprises and more support. Thanks so much for reading. xo

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  11. Duke N. Pam says:

    love <3

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  14. Shar says:

    Hello,I love reading your words, you sound very intuitive and strong. I have a very hard time with death. I have had the usual losses from family and friends and the hardest one was my Soul Mate who was a cat. This cat felt everything I felt, never left my side, slept on my stomach, I wish she could have talked. I had to put her down for Kidney failure, but I had her for 17 years and that was 6 years longer than the Vet gave her. He couldn’t believe she was still living when I went back years later. I believe God kept her here for me to love and care for. She has been gone about 1 1/2 years now and I still cry when she comes to mind. The Vet I took her to for many years died last week, so now they are forever linked. Death to me is so final, you will never see that person or animal again, it is such a loss. I guess I haven’t learned anything from the experience because I still have the pain in my stomach from some of them. I have learned that I feel more alone with each loss and that isn’t a good thing. I wish I had your attitude. I will be reading all your messages. Thanks

    • Liz says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss Shar, I know how hard it is to lose a pet. And I’m so sorry you feel so alone. Please don’t be hard on yourself, no loss is easy and that pain is so strong because you loved so much. Your cat was so lucky to have you to care for her for that long. She lived a blessed life because of you. Lots of love to you.

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  17. G Angela says:

    Very beautiful and inspiring, recently my niece died and it was too sudden and shocking. writing a tribute, I came across your post. Thank you for sharing !

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