I recently wrote about how when we lose someone we love, their death matters. Not the cause of it, necessarily, but just the fact that it happened. The significance of loss is unparalleled.
What I also want to discuss is the lives of our lost loved ones. And how much they matter too.
Chances are you have heard that it is the “dash between the dates” that matters most. I couldn’t agree more. A person’s birth day and their death day are mere moments of joy and/or sorrow. But all of the days in between are what make up their life.
And to me, no single life matters more than another.
I have gotten on my soapbox about this before, but I am sick of people being treated differently because of what they suffer from during their life.
I have seen firsthand how people gather around in support of someone suffering from a terminal illness. Anything that society determines was not brought on by one’s lifestyle choices automatically deserves to be supported.
And then there are the people suffering from mental illnesses, behavioral health issues, substance abuse, weight-related health issues, etc. In their times of need, these people (and their loved ones) are often left abandoned.
Both groups face the whispers from outsiders. Those facing terminal illness hear things like: that’s so sad, it’s so unfair, s/he is such a good person and doesn’t deserve this. Whereas those facing taboo illnesses tend to hear things like: well if you took better care of yourself, if you got help sooner, if you made better decisions then you wouldn’t be in this situation.
I won’t go on about how it isn’t always a choice that a person makes that leads to things like mental health diagnoses or substance abuse disorders. (But it isn’t).
What I really want to get across is that it isn’t about the illness. Not at all. It’s about the life.
We are only given one life. And no matter what happens that causes that life to be shorter than expected, we all need support to endure each day.
We need people around us to carry us through our darkest days while we are suffering from any kind of illness.
And the loved ones of those suffering need support, too. Before, during and well after the death of our person.
Please do not abandon us because you disagree with how our loved one lived their life. Please do not disappear because you disagree with our decision to remain loyal to that person and to continue to care for them. Please do not turn your nose when you find out how our person died.
It’s not about how they died.
It’s about how they lived.
Even in the depths of any type of illness, where there are more dark days than light ones, there are still good times to be remembered.
Focus on that. Ask about our person’s passions, their dreams, their guilty pleasures. We may have to dig deep to remember, but the feeling we get when we reflect on such a wonderful time is inexplicable.
It doesn’t matter who they are. It doesn’t matter what brought them to their death.
If we loved them, their life matters.