I lost my dad just over 5 years ago. He was 55, and had a whole lot of life to live and we had a whole lot of life to live with him. It would be easy for me to focus on the moments my family and I have lost with him gone than it would be to find the moments of gratitude despite his absence.
He missed my younger sister’s high school graduation, the birth of his first (and second) grandchild, the purchasing of my first home, a trip to Spain with my mom and younger brother and sister, my brother getting into medical school. He’s missed driving up the canyon every fall to take in the beauty of the changing of the leaves. He’s missed his children starting new jobs. He’s missed having pancakes at his favorite beachfront cafe. He’s missed waking up to the love of his life every morning. He won’t get to walk 2 of his daughters down the aisle. The missed moments can add up quickly.
However, if you continue to celebrate their life in each moment, you can see how even though they’re physically gone, their life and love can still be a positive part of your every day.
Over the past 5 years I’ve realized that there are great ways to keep loving someone you’ve lost. Here are 5 ways that have helped me:
- Use the things they taught you – Whether it be how to change a tire, or the importance of standing up for yourself, make a conscious effort to use what your loved one taught you and say a prayer of gratitude for them as you do.
- Keep their legacy alive by adopting the traits they lived so well – when you think about your loved one, what were their greatest traits? Was it their integrity? Their kindness? Their ambition? Whatever it may be, try to grow and live those traits in your own life and you’ll surely be keeping their legacy alive.
- Keep creating memories – Find creative ways to celebrate them. Keep up their traditions, start new ones around the things they loved. Find ways to capture memories for those who knew and loved them by continuing to celebrate their birthdays, telling stories, or going to their favorite places.
- Find gratitude in the moments that are hardest to find it – The moments that are the hardest to have them absent are the ones that it is most important to find gratitude. Whatever life event you are experiencing without them, remind yourself of 3 reasons how your loved one helped you on your path to get you where you stand at that moment. I bet you'll realize they're more part of your path than you thought.
- Write down your favorite memories and things they told you, and read them often – I have a note in my phone with pages of “Things I learned from my dad” from over the years. Some are hilarious things he said that make me laugh every time, others are advice I can’t live without and need to be reminded of every so often. Taking time to remember moments, write them down, and revisit them, is a way to keep loving and living with your lost loved one.
It's devastating to lose someone we love. A parent, a child, a sibling, a spouse, a best friend. But just because they're not on this earth doesn't mean they're not still influencing our lives. Love keeps everything alive.
Revelation 21:4 – "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
This lyric from Beyonce's song "Heaven" is perfect:
"I just can't stand to see you leaving
But heaven couldn't wait for you"
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