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“My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.”

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Home Forums Helping Hand “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.”

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  • #18969

    From an old, now-defunct internet chatline comes this gem of a story. One user had written the following heartfelt plea online, from which I take the title for this resourceful post:

    “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.”

    The rest of the post had been deleted, so only the title remained. However, one particularly helpful response lives on, that was absolutely incredible. The reply by this self-titled “old guy” might just help to reframe things if you are grieving yourself (I know it did for me, which is why I’m sharing it here) – and even help change the way you approach life and death yourself, whether grieving or not.

    “I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not.

    I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbours, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents…

    I wish I could say you get used to people dying. But I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it.

    Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

    As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

    In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

    Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

    Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too.

    If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”

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  • #20119

    That is such a lovely way to look at grief, at life and at scars – both emotional and physical.

    I have ‘silly scars’, they are scars that life gives you when you’re doing something you shouldn’t, to help remind you in the future what not to do. Some of them are physical, some are on the inside. The bigger the scar, the greater the adventure.

    A lovely story – I hope some on the forum find this almost-lost response from a self-confessed ‘oldie’ helpful, in some way. Let’s all celebrate our scars instead of hiding them.


    @VM-Mancha1 – thank you for bringing this post from @VM-Michael back into the light – these musings from the ‘old guy’ are really quite profound

    …and hopefully provide some comfort and hope for those in the midst of grief that feels impossible to bear.


    So beautiful, what a lovely analysis of grief and its many stages and emotions.


    Wow. Thank you for sharing. That post was so intuitive, full of compassion but above everything I loved the hope it gave – to find a way through the midst of grief to a time when life will be easier to bear without losing the recognition of the thing we loved and lost. Many sincere thanks.


    Thank you for reposting the ‘old guy’s’ wisdom. It is filled with strength for a future where we can visualise the waves of grief and prepare for it perhaps with our surfboard of awareness so we may ride the waves.

Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
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