Bye bye, love.
I can see we’re through.
I found in me
What I wanted in you.
… It only changes it. And that holds true whether you believe in life after death or not.
Obviously you’re not going to have the same sorts of interactions with the deceased that you had with them when they were alive.
But the feelings you had for a person in life will not magically vanish just because that person is no longer physically present.
If you had a positive and loving relationship, you will still have those feelings. Things you see and do will remind you of the deceased and make you smile. You may still talk to them either in your mind or even aloud. You might even get a response.
Conversely, if you have a difficult or negative relationship with someone while they are alive, the strife isn’t over when that person dies, as many people seem to think or perhaps hope.
The changes that death brings to these relationships may cause frustration or open a door to forgiveness.
If you have unfinished business with a person who has died, you might be frustrated that you can’t get an explanation or receive an apology.
However, death can also level the playing field.
My father’s death finally gave me a chance to say many of the things I wanted to say to him without being rebuffed, denied or interrupted. It also allowed me to love my father without fear. I could see him as human – mortal, vulnerable, flawed, a child of God – just like me.
I feel closer and more loving to him now than I ever could when he was alive. That is the transformative power of death. What changes it brings for you are your choice.
Some relationships, especially romantic ones, are like cheap shoes. At first those shoes look great – shiny, colourful and of the moment. You’re drawn to them. The shoes look so fabulous you think they’ll make you look fabulous too.
But when you put the shoes on your perfectly healthy, tender feet, very quickly those “great” shoes start to hurt and chafe and rip your tootsies to shreds.
But… you paid money for these shoes. They look fab. So, you decide to wear them a little longer and pain be damned. In no time, you’re practically crippled with pain. And finally you have to admit that those shoes are a bust and you simply cannot wear them.
There are times you’re so invested, you just can’t bring yourself to part with those shoes, as if somehow magically they or your feet will change. The shoes get chucked into the back of the closet and eventually you forget about them.
Months or years later, you rediscover the shoes and they are so laughably out-of-date and so clearly wrong, you toss them out.
But sometimes those shoes still look good and you try them on one more time and… OUCH! They still hurt. So the cheap shoes are finally sent to a charity or a little girl’s dress up box.
Soon enough, you’re back in the shoe store checking out the really great, high-quality, made-to-last, always-in-style and right-for-you shoes.
Or you might just choose to go barefoot instead.
In 1982, Judith Martin, better known as Miss Manners, published Miss Manner’s Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. The book covers the etiquette for just about every social situation in Western society and is understandable, applicable and exquisitely funny.
I read the book right after graduation as I struggled to navigate the new and overwhelming world of office parties, weddings and baby showers. I wanted to be sure I did the right thing. Miss Manners has the correct answer for every situation.
But more importantly, Miss Manners has the winning formula for leading her gentle readers to determine for themselves what the right thing to do is. She espouses the gracious view that civility, respect, consideration and awareness of the comfort of others should guide us.
Thirty plus years later, the “freshly updated” edition includes modern concerns such as cell phone use, the Internet and which mom in a same-sex couple walks the bride down the aisle. I haven’t read this updated version yet, but I will bet my fish forks and ‘thank you’ cards that Miss Manners essential formula for excruciatingly correct behavior holds true. Be civil. Be respectful. Be considerate