The upside of death: The imprint of life

The upside of death: The imprint of life

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Tim Beach on the left along with just a few who will miss him terribly.

MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., March 21, 2014 — The death of a loved one — a friend or a family member — is very painful. It is even more painful when that loved one is relatively young. When a person lives a clean, healthy life without excesses and vices, his or her sudden death may be difficult to comprehend.

Many people have spiritual beliefs that will dampen the blow. They believe that the soul goes on to a heaven or some higher plane. They believe that the person’s life has been upgraded to a paradise-like existence. This comes with the caveat that the dearly departed lived an exemplary life.

What remains of those who die is what they leave imprinted in our hearts and minds. Their deeds are evaluated as a part of the person we remember. We remember their personal feelings as they shared them with us, and weave them together as part of a single tapestry of memory.

Probably some of the things we remember best are things said in confidence that reveal the deep emotions of our loved ones. As a loved one starts to lose faculties, perhaps slowly going blind after a long illness, a statement like, “I love to sleep because when I dream I can see things as they were” can bring tears to our eyes.

As the shock of the loss fades, you may only think of the deceased when in a contemplative mood. The thoughts are no longer painful, but more nostalgic.

You may remember that the person was never angry at anyone. That he never raised his voice in anger and only when discussing subjects of common interest would have strong words of condemnation for acts.

Even more emotional are acts and thoughts that you shared with this person. You may remember the lively look in his eyes when discussing computer technology or liberal politics. Just out of the blue you will relive such conversations and in particular episodic portions of them.

We all we have a very different way to exercise nostalgia about the person. It is amazing how details and things said or heard casually would bring up a new image in your head. These episodes should be relished.

[A counterpoint to this is what happened when visiting a distant relative (a completely different person) soon after he had been diagnosed with an incurable disease. After a very pleasant afternoon in which he shared his fantastic stamp collection, his wife approached me and privately told me to “… not to start getting ideas about the collection…” as it had already been promised to someone else. This person sure had gotten past the grievance and nostalgic period in a hurry.]

It is interesting that even after many years after the demise of a loved one, one can still think of him/her as living. Thoughts like “I have to tell **** about this” may pop into your head to suddenly realize the person has been long gone. The disappointment is usually accompanied by a sweet sense of nostalgia. The main thing is that the person is still with us.

Tim Beach we will cherish knowing you forever. This is the only heaven we can offer you.

A tearful 21st Century Pacifist is on Facebook (Mario Salazar), Twitter (@chibcharus) and Google+.

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