I don’t think we are prepared on how to grieve the loss of our peers from our adolescence. It’s a different sadness and pain from the loss of others in our lives. These are the people we made core memories with. The people that grew up along side of us. We built leaf forts and played tether ball and cried and laughed and grew physically and mentally with the peers of our youth. It’s easy to want to preserve these people in our minds believing that life should and would be good for them. That as we grew into adults and older people they would continue to walk along side us, even from afar. Someone that rode the bus with me passed away in a car accident recently. I have very vivid memories of this curly blonde haired kid from when we were in grade school. Him and his sister were one of the last ones picked up on our bus route and one of the first dropped off. I was the exact opposite; first one picked up and last one dropped off. I could probably still drive to that house after all these years. I haven’t seen him or spoken to him in at least 15 years. And yet, I feel so much grief over him. He was only 20 and newly engaged.
Growing up I remember my parents talking about the loss of their classmates and friends from high school. At the time I didn’t understand the magnitude that this grief holds. How do we grieve the loss of people we don’t know anymore? This is something that I will think about for a long time. Impart because this will not be the only time loss like this will happen. Unfortunately, we are not all guaranteed a long life. This breaks my heart. I grieve for the things that he never got to do, see, experience, or learn. I feel this way about anyone who’s life was cut short.
These events force me into reflection. In what ways do I want to live my life? What values do I want to uphold? As I write this I have narrowed my three cornerstone values to gratitude, courage, and compassion. I get it’s all fine and good to decide your values, but it’s the way that we live them out that truly matters. I want to hold space for these cornerstones within grief. I want to live them out in the joy and the sorrow, and the everything in between. With each new loss I am humbled for my presence of life.
To the family of Jake: My deepest condolences are with you. I, like hundreds of others, have cried for your son, brother, and fiancé’. Our paths crossed briefly, but his memory is imprinted on me.