Saturday, August 16, 2014

To Be The Giver

Every once in a while, something slams into us without warning. On a hot summer night two years ago, it was the phone call, with my father-in-law on the other end of the line telling me that the love of my life was in a crash while flying, and he didn't make it. His death slammed into me like two planets colliding.

And then this week, on another hot summer night, I think Robin Williams' death slammed into all of us. I have been surprised by just how deeply this has affected me. I've found myself having the same reaction of disbelief as when my fiancé died. The same outcry from deep inside myself that "No. No. This cannot be real." I've cried multiple times, deep sobs, for the loss of this man who - despite having never even met me - had a huge impact on my life. I grew up with him, watching Mork & Mindy and later Mrs. Doubtfire just about every week. I watched The Birdcage religiously through college - one of my go-to movies whenever I needed a break from all the stress in life. I watched Hook countless times whenever I needed a good dose of wonder and a reminder that life is full of magic. In fact, just a few weeks ago I watched it for just that reason… I watched Robin's childlike eyes light up and it made me believe in wonder and beauty and magic again.

All of this has got me thinking… how many people's lives do we touch that we have no idea about?
How many people's lives do I touch by writing here each week? Or by sharing my artwork about grief and loss? Or by just being kind and a good listener? There are countless people who may never tell us that we touched their lives… but nonetheless we have. And I don't think we ever have a clue just how much impact we have on others by the choices we make and the ways we choose to live our lives and treat others. But this week, this one very special man reminded me of just that. His death reminded me not only of the impact he has had, but of the capacity we ALL have to impact each other, inspire each other, love each other, and make each other laugh. It reminded me that - when I feel most alone - I can think about the little ways I've touched people's lives and know that I probably touched twice as many as I could ever know. We all have. Somehow, it makes things feel less lonely. It makes my heart feel more open and warm.

I don't really know where I'm going with this post. I hadn't planned to write about this today… so I'm letting it take me along for the ride. There has been much to think about this week, but what I am thinking on right now is that one idea: We touch so many more lives than we know. Every single interaction we have is a chance to leave the other person better than we found them. Every. Single. One. To give them laughter they didn't have, comfort they need, most of all - to allow them to feel seen and noticed. We all want to be noticed.

The beautiful thing about being the giver is that it goes both ways. Every time you give to someone else - that love flows right back to you. A selfless act of love for another is one of the most healing and beautiful gifts you can ever give - to them and to yourself.  Most especially in the midst of great loss.

It was death that woke me up to this two years ago, and keeps it in the forefront of my heart now. It is death that continues to remind me each day that every single interaction with another person matters… whether I've known them a decade or a day. It is death that reminds me that the way I live my life matters… and that I matter, probably far more than I will ever realize. 

14 comments:

  1. Beautiful. It is true. I had no idea that any one person could cause such a ripple effect until my husband died. I agree. We need to create heaven on earth by our interactions with others. I also think we should give people their eulogies while they are alive. So thank you for taking one day a week EVERY week to share your thoughts, feelings, and art with those of us who think and feel like you do but don't have the words or the creative gifts. You all are OUR widow's voice.

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    1. Carolyn, thank you so much. I think you are absolutely right - we should be telling people far more often how important they are. Thank you for reading and leaving such a heartfelt comment, I truly appreciate it. I actually read this early this morning when I was in a bit of a funk - and it truly did lift up my day a little. =) Thanks for that!!

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  2. Thanks, Sarah. I needed this!

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    1. You're welcome!! Thank you for reading!

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  3. What a beautiful way to pay homage to those who have passed on...and remind us of the connections we continue to share while we are still here.

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  4. Widow's Voice and Soaring Spirits has done so much for me-- and I'm sure they didn't intend to. I am not a widow, but I have suffered loss. In fact, so many losses! And then another one just this past week! I have felt supported as I used all my coping skills to deal with the nightmares, panic attacks, stomach issues, and loneliness. I know I am not the only one going through the day with a few crying jags mixing in with the errands and the household chores. Robin Williams' death hit me hard, as well. I watched the 20/20 special and made it 8 minutes in before I was broken down in tears. But I disagree with "The beautiful thing about being the giver is that it goes both ways". I often need support and fail to receive it. I have learned that this is "Disenfranchised Grief" and I am learning to process it. -Snowygirl

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    1. Thank you for sharing Snowy, I had about the same reaction to his death too. I suppose what I meant by the "it goes both ways" was not so much the support received back from others, but the good feeling you get when you do give something genuine to another. I feel like it helps me to heal every time I give something to someone else.

      Unfortunately getting the support I need is - like you said - not always as simple. I hate that it is up to me to make sure I tell people when I need support (especially when my fiancé always asked and always knew without me saying a word when I was sad!) I always feel like they should just be asking and knowing like he did. But, I guess it doesn't seem to work that way always - and sometimes we just have to make it happen. *sigh* I definitely hear you.

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  5. Trust me your post matters.... it touches me every week. Thanks!

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  6. dear Sarah,

    what a beautiful essay on giving and Love! your Widows' Voice along with the others has helped me so much to let me know I am not alone...and though that phrase is common, it is HUGE and beautiful and a wondrous thing. to be able to touch another's life, to be the giver, helps us move outside of ourselves - a place that is so dark and consuming at times - out into the light. since Hugh died, I have envisioned him at the very moment he slipped the bonds of this earth, greeted by legions of others who were on the receiving end of the love he lived and shared - his smile, his tenderness in listening to the plights of strangers, and his boundless capacity to offer help and solace to them. and I know you were left with that same legacy, Sarah. thank you for your heartfelt compassion and the messages you send out each week...as always...

    with much Love,

    Karen

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    1. Karen, what a beautiful comment. THank you so very much for sharing that - I just love your idea of all those meeting him on the other side that he helped and loved. Beautiful! I will keep that with me =) Much love

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  7. You are one smart lady and I am so grateful you are in my life! Love you chic!

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