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How the Death of a Loved One Changes You

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Death can have a way of changing you, I’ve found. It may not happen all at once, but when you look back to that day, when you look back to that moment in time, you might realize a marker has been placed in your life. A marker that can forever remind you of before and after, and the person you become in the after may look different than the person who was there before.

Death may make you angry and bitter. Not always, and not every day. But when you look at someone cherishing a moment with a loved one, a loved one you can no longer share a moment with, you might feel angry because you can’t do the same. It doesn’t seem fair. You would beg and plead and give just about anything for one more moment with your loved one. But you can’t. Because they are dead. Death has a way of changing you.

Death can make you sad. At first, it might feel like depression. The simple act of getting out of bed and getting dressed can take every ounce of effort you can muster up. You might feel like staying in bed and crying all day. You may have a hard time imagining how life can go on without your loved one. But it does. Time is a funny thing. It stops for no one. The sad days start to pass. Getting out of bed becomes easier. But the sadness lingers. It just chooses a different way of showing itself. It might wash over you unexpectedly when you hear a sad lyric in a song or watch a sad scene in a movie. You may become more sensitive to sadness. Sometimes it might feel like you seek sad things out, but perhaps they seek you out. Because you can relate. Because death has a way of changing you.

Death can make you question the good. It can make you wonder if there is someone somewhere keeping score. It can make you wonder why you were chosen, why your loved one was chosen. Why me? Why now? Why do bad things happen to good people? You’ll likely never get an answer, but you may always wonder. The thought always lingers there in the back of your mind. It can grow quieter with time, but on the days when you miss your loved one more than anything, it roars like a lion and you will want to roar right back. You may not have even thought you were capable of being a lion, but death has a way of changing you.

Death can have a way of helping you see the light. It’s strange how it works, because at first there is nothing but darkness. You feel lost and alone and scared. Without the darkness, you would never see the stars. One by one, they start to shine, and before long the sun is coming up and bringing with it light. It brings beauty and hope and peace. It shines brighter than you remember and catches and bounces off things you failed to see before. Things that were there but went unnoticed because you are different now. Death has a way of changing you.

I am not the person I was before that moment in time. I will forever look at myself under the lens of loss. I have been broken and put back together. I have known grief. I am fragile. I have scars. I am weak, and I am strong. I am filled with happy memories and sad regrets. I consider myself changed, perhaps for the better or perhaps for the worse. It depends on the day. But I am changed. Death has changed me.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: January 13, 2017
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