Death, a separation from life

How does one cope?

A simple fact of life is that we are all going to die. We all hope that the day of our separation from this life will be some time in the distant future. But, life is not always so kind.

At some point in your life, you may come to the realization that you will die, and be able to find peace with it. But what is much more difficult is to accept that someone you love may die, and you would continue your life without that person in it.

Loved ones are not just family members and significant others. Loved ones are those that we love in our lives. They are those people that we feel make us who we are, They are those people who provide a foundation that we build our lives upon. Your close friends are loved ones, too. They are the family that you choose.

Imagine that your best friend dies, or maybe your mother, father, son, daughter, spouse, or partner. I know. It is morbid to think like that, but we are discussing how to cope with this situation, so it is a necessary evil. 

You would most likely feel an intense sorry for having lost someone so close to you, even though you are only imagining it. You feel sad because that person is no longer with us. You can’t interact with that person. A void is created in your life.

Now, imagine that you had an argument with that person just before their passing, and the argument never was resolved. It is even more difficult to deal with the thought that your loved one should pass away after an argument. That void that is left is now filled with remorse, a feeling that can affect a person for a lifetime.

I have heard it said many times that you should never let an argument go unresolved because the guilt would eat you up inside if something should happen to the other person. Maybe this has already happened to you. Maybe you are suffering right now.

The feeling of guilt lingers on for what seems to be an eternity. You feel an overwhelming need to shout out, “I AM SORRY!!!”, hoping that you can be heard from the other side.

I hope that what I am about to say in this excerpt from my personal life will help you find comfort, whether you are concerned about a loved one passing, or you are suffering from the passing of a loved one, and attempting to cope with the guilt of disagreement.

I once had a close friend, Mateo. He was a few years younger than me, so I always tried to give him advice based on my experiences. Many times he would not agree, and one time we had an argument that caused a rift to form between us.

In my mind, we were still friends, but I didn’t want to be the weak one and give in to the argument. (I am sure we have all been there.) We stopped speaking, and days later he moved several hours away. 

A year later, his cousin, Julio (also a very good friend), asked me if I could drive him to Atlanta. I said that I would, but when I asked why, he told me that Mateo had passed away, and he wanted to go to the funeral. 

I was in shock. Is he referring to my friend, Mateo? Could it be someone else? Unfortunately, it was my friend who had passed. 

I asked how it happened. He told me that Mateo had been in and out of the hospital for 6 months with cancer, and he passed away recently in the hospital. I didn’t even know he had been sick. That is how disconnected we became after the argument. 

I drove Julio to the funeral, but I stayed in the car. The guilt of holding a grudge would not allow me to see him lying in a casket. I was afraid of what I would do in front of everyone. To avoid going into details, I told Julio that I don’t like funerals. 

Afterward, on the six-hour drive home, I cried the whole way. I never told Mateo I was not angry. I never told him that what we argued about didn’t really matter at all. Not only that, but I had missed the opportunity for the final goodbye at the funeral because of my inability to face him even after he had died. 

Every night afterward, I was unable to sleep. For a week, I was crying incessantly every night. I had left a loose end in our friendship, and I would suffer forever, now that he is no longer here. 

One night, I decided to take a long, hot bath to ease my mind a little. It was 3 AM, and I was unable to sleep. I was lying there in a tub of hot water trying to find some relief. My cellphone rang. 

I thought, “Who would be calling at 3 in the morning?” It was not a number that I had registered in my contacts, so I had no idea who could be calling at that hour. 

I answered the call. An old man was on the other end, and he asked, “May I speak with Jeffery?” 

I answered saying, “This is Jeffery.” 

The man said, “I know the passing of Mateo must be really hard on you because he was like a son to you.” 

As I was crying, I told the man, “I can’t sleep. I can’t stop crying. I feel so guilty for not having resolved a dispute we had. I can’t help but think that he died thinking I was angry.” 

What the man said next surprised me. He told me not to worry. He told me that he was at the hospital holding Mateo’s hand as Mateo was passing, and that Mateo had said, “If you ever speak to Jeffery, please tell him that he was like a father to me.” 

His words hit me so hard that I didn’t know what else to say. It took all I had to just thank the man and tell him I need to sleep. He told me to rest assured that Mateo understands. We ended the call. 

I finished my bath and went back to bed. I was at peace. I could sleep. I slept so soundly that I didn’t wake up until noon the next day. 

Upon waking, I tried to call the number that had called me at 3 AM. But to my surprise, the number was not a valid phone number. I was confused. The number was registered in my call history. How could it not be a working number? 

I then began to question the whole scenario. Who was it that called me? How did he get my number? And, again, why does the number he called from not exist? 

I spoke with several friends concerning this. All of them told me that it was a message from Mateo. They all agreed that Mateo did not want to see me suffer. Of course not, Mateo was, after all, my friend. 

So, I now believe that our loved ones who pass away can still see us. They know what is in our hearts. And, in some cases, possibly even send us a message. In that way, they are truly never gone.

If you contemplate the death of a loved one or have already experienced it, even if you have differences that were never resolved, know that your loved ones are always with you, and they will always know that you love them.

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