Mourning with those who mourn…

“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something…” So says Westley/the Dread Pirate Roberts to Princess Buttercup in the 1987 classic, “The Princess Bride.” While I don’t totally subscribe to the idea that life is ONLY pain, I can say from my own experiences, life involves a lot of pain… & I believe one of the greatest sources of pain comes from the grief & sadness which accompany the loss of a loved one.


Over the last year, I have walked through this thing called grief with several dear friends as someone dear to them – mother, husband, father, son, friend – died unexpectedly/without warning. These experiences of soul devastation have a way of shaking a person to the foundation of their very being, as life after the loss will never be the same as it was before. Living & loving in connected relationships leaves an indelible mark on us – & when our loved one is gone, life is not ‘ok’. Nothing is normal. Our emotions are all over the place. And anything more than merely gutting it through each day seems to be a pipe dream.

Places. Songs. Special events. Holidays. All things that remind us of our loved one, with a pain that mocks us with the fact that Nothing will ever be the same again. And then there’s the people – mostly well-meaning people that can see we’re in pain, & they’d like to do something about it, but they really don’t know what to say… & yet they say stuff anyways. These words can range from the silly, like, “The Lord just needed another angel in Heaven,” to religious clichés: “The Lord moves in mysterious ways,” or “One day you’ll know the reason God took your loved one.” Then there’s the insensitive, “How long are you going to grieve? Should you be past this already?” only to be topped by the horrifying: “God took your loved one because He knew that later in life they were going to fall away from Him,” or, “If only you had had enough faith, your loved one wouldn’t have died – it’s on you.” (I’ve personally heard each of these in reference to my brother’s death.) In the words of a great man, “If you don’t know what to say, limit your words.” (Thanks for that, Jerry Cook!)


Earlier this year, a dear friend lost her husband – & as part of her grieving, left her home town & went with her daughter to visit a collection of “safe people:” Close, supportive friends, the kind who have your back in any/every situation. TheBean & I count it an honor to be on this friend’s list of “safe” people. I can remember her sitting in our kitchen & matter-of-factly saying, “Tell me everything you know about grieving. Because I want to grieve well.”

Here’s the jist of what I said:

Our grieving, mourning, & hurting from the loss of a loved one can make us want to isolate. To withdraw. Turn inward. Pull away. Attempt to work through our grief solo. I get it. But I think doing that only makes it worse. As Christians, we (hopefully) have the benefit of a community of people that we’re walking through life with – people that we can celebrate life’s joys with… & people that we can mourn life’s great losses with as well.

I personally know how uncomfortable it is to be in a public place (like church) & be so overwhelmed & overcome with grief that the sobs just roll out, along with an endless supply of tears, & even a sense of pain that’s so fresh it feels like the loss just happened. Being around others in a situation like that can be awkward, because we’re totally vulnerable. Totally exposed. Raw. On our last nerve. And we hurt. And in that spot we cry & we pray & we ask God to make the hurt stop.

And then God answers our prayers with people.

  • People who will sit in silence with us, not having to say anything, but rather just offering the gift of their presence in our grief.
  • People who will hold & comfort us, no matter how long the grieving has been going.
  • People who aren’t in a hurry for us to “get past” or “get through” our grief – because they understand that even if its been years since the loss, the grief can still come in fresh & powerful waves.
  • People who will reminisce with us about our loved one. Who will tell stories about what they loved about them, about the things they did that impacted their life.
  • People who recognize that everywhere they go, they are a little piece of Jesus. And as such, when they come across others hurting, in pain, grieving, & broken, they can be a point of life & comfort.

There will always be those who say/do something that makes us wonder if its really a good idea to grieve/work through lives in the company of a community. I say It’s worth it. Maybe I won’t open up to everybody, but with the safe people, yeah, I do. And I will. Because when a friend comes alongside us in our grief, they shoulder some of the hurt & pain & loss… & it makes the situation just a little more bearable.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15 NIV

Two dates…

Two dates. Eventually, all of us will experience them. The first is the day we’re born. The second is the day we’ll die. Two dates.

My brother Johnny’s two dates are January 22, 1973 & June 17, 1990 – today is the anniversary of his heaven-going. (NOTE: I wrote a bit about Johnny earlier this year in a blog called have faith.)


I’ve been thinking about that quite a bit about those two dates lately. Part of it has to do with the intensive that theBean & I went through last week at HOTHIn our time there, we experienced mentoring, coaching, counseling, & therapy (if it is possible to separate the counseling & therapy. I did in my mind because, to me, there were very distinct difference between the 2. I’ll have to ask my Buddy the Therapist how he differentiates the 2. Or if he does. But I digress.)

One of the things that came out in our sessions is that, based upon negative/bad experiences (things I did/things done to me/things that happened to others,) we formulate ideas, thoughts, & beliefs that are honest (truly what we think, feel, & believe,) but that aren’t based on truth (a.k.a. what God says, what He declares is true of me & my identity.) These beliefs can & do shape our attitudes, thoughts, & behaviors, often in very negative & painful ways. One of those that has once again emerged, (& that I have been fortunate to have people wrestle through with me over the years,) is the belief that I am inadequate, insufficient, & wholly lacking in the areas I need for life, for relationships, for my ‘job.’ This belief does not have a strong hold on my life — due in large part to the many hours of theophostic prayer with Dennis & Georgia, hours of counseling & talks with Chuck, God’s boundless goodness & grace in revealing to me, through His word, through our ‘talks’ what He thinks of me, & finally through dear friendships full of good words & forgiveness.

Still, during the intensive – as I tracked negative experiences on yellow post-it notes (I will  forever associate negative feelings with yellow post-its… so say we all) – I saw this consistent theme of inadequacy & insufficiency surface repeatedly… it got to the point that, as I looked at my years from a birds-eye view, I saw the thread linking them together, a diabolical, dehumanizing thread meant to put me into a shell, consumed with self-doubt & loathing, bound by fear, too timid to DO anything for fear of being discovered for what I was. Not enough.

I saw that thread & it pissed me off. Made me angry at the time I spent dwelling on those negative thoughts. Angry at the damage done TO me & BY me as a result of those beliefs. But most of all, angry at the enemy of my soul, enemy of OUR souls, the one who strikes at us, who looks to keep us from the saving grace of God through Christ if he can, & if he can’t, he’s the one who looks to steal from us, kill us off slowly, & methodically destroy every area of our lives.


For years, I felt like somehow I’d failed my brother… that, as crazy as it sounds, I should have been able to do something to keep him from dying. And that if I couldn’t keep him from dying, I should have spent more time with him, especially in his last year of life. (The SHOULD HAVES are a crushing weight… over time I have come to believe that when I feel a should have fall on my shoulders like a ton of blame & shame, its origin is usually coming from the enemy who’s trying, ever trying, to condemn, accuse, lying, & shame. So I verbally tell the should haves to go to hell. In Jesus Name.)

I know why I feel responsible for Johnny, (not to mention Joel & Ben;) its because I’m the oldest. The firstborn. I took on the responsibility when I was 4, & somewhere in there a parental encouragement of “Watch over your brothers while I go to the store,” became something never intended: You, Louie, are the one who is responsible to make sure that nothing bad happens to your brothers. And if it does, its because you somehow failed. Or you were inadequate. Or you should have  done something better. Or different. Or both.

See what I mean about a crushing weight?


When my parents brought Johnny home from UCSF, I was unaware that he was coming home to die, & would die soon, apart from a miracle healing from God. How was I unaware? Well, if you work hard, don’t ask questions, & pretend that life is really normal & nothing bad is happening, & your brother is in San Francisco for treatment but he’s really getting better, & then he’ll come home & life will resume, it’s really pretty easy.

Until I saw him. He was laying in his hospital bed, downstairs at my parents house. His abdomen was distended, & I didn’t know why. So I asked. And he told me, “It’s my liver.” And then I knew. I noticed the yellowish tint to his eyes, his skin. The general overall weakness of his countenance. How much weight he had lost. And then I knew.

And the previous 12 months of denial reproached me like a slap to the face. I had avoided the reality of the situation because it hurt to much to acknowledge it.

I wish I’d spent more time talking with Johnny through his months of treatment, because the conversations I did have are some of the most precious memories I have. Because in the middle of the sickness, the pain, the suffering… my brother found a depth of faith & trust in God, something I can only call true maturity in Christ. I’m thankful for my mom recording & writing down some of the conversations she had with him too. Because they provide an insight to what really matters.

Here’s what I mean:  Instead of getting bitter or angry at God about his short life, the cancer, & all the things he’d lost or wouldn’t get to experience, he fully embraced what he HAD. His life. And his life’s purpose – to live for the glory of God, in the middle of WHATEVER circumstances he faced. In the face of death, in the midst of pain, he lived & died for that purpose. To have that kind of resolve, that kind of outlook on life, that kind of focus is something that motivates & inspires me every single day. He lived a good story, the kind of story that makes me want to be a better man.


Two dates. My first one is September 19, 1969. And my second one? Don’t know.

But I can tell you this. I will live & strive to live for the glory of God in every area of my life. To live a good story. To be the best husband, father, grandfather, son, & friend that I can be. Because when I do that, I’m honoring Johnny & God.


“We live in a world where bad stories are told, stories that teach us life doesn’t mean anything & that humanity has no great purpose. It’s a good calling, then, to speak a better story. How brightly a better story shines. How easily the world looks to it in wonder. How grateful we are to hear these stories, & how happy it makes us to repeat them.”

Donald Miller – A Million Miles In A Thousand Years

Have faith. Have faith.

John Leavy LockeRamblings from my head – from January 22, 2016, the day that would have been John Leavy Locke’s 43rd birthday.

When I was 4, I used to sit on the sidewalk in front of my house & watch the 3 boys across the street play in their front yard. And I thought they were so lucky because they had brothers that were old enough to play with. And all I had was a 1-year old little brother, Johnny, that wasn’t good for much except crying & refusing to eat his peas & carrots. One day, my dad came out & sat next to me on the curb while I watched the neighbors playing, again, & he told me, “Before you know it, Johnny will be big & he’ll be able to play & you guys will have so much fun. And he will grow up to be your best friend.” I can remember thinking in my head, “Maybe. But that time is SO FAR away…”

But it happened. Johnny grew up. And we DID become best friends – we spent our childhood playing baseball & football from dawn til dusk in the backyard. One of my favorite things was to teach Johnny how to do something – we had a baseball tee in the backyard, & he was trying to hit the ball off the tee, without success. He said, “Help me Louie!?” And I did. And I loved it.

Sometimes the games carried into the house, with the predictable destructive results to the house – & also to Johnny – I remember trying to teach him what form tackling was in the living room. I was on my knees to make it fair – & he ran the football towards the end zone (aka the fireplace) & I launched myself at him & sent him sprawling. I was so proud of my form tackle that I didn’t notice him get up & run as fast as he could to the back of the house. I yelled at him, “Come back here you chicken. You have to tackle me now.” He didn’t come back… turns out when he fell he hit his forearm on a screw sticking out of an open door – & his forearm was sliced open, clean as a whistle, no blood at all, from his wrist to his elbow. Good times.

We did everything together – early morning paper routes, collecting baseball cards, cheering for the hapless SF Giants, feeding the dogs & chickens… although somehow he found ways to be missing when it was time to clean the chicken coops. Johnny was a great athlete, probably the best out of the four of us boys, & worked incredibly hard at everything he did. When I was 12, my Little League manager pulled Johnny up from the Farm division & promoted him to Majors. We got to play ½ a season together… & it was obvious that while I still had the upper hand, he was going to be much, much better than I was at baseball. I remember one of my teammates asking me if I was mad that my brother was on our team now… I said, “Nope. He’s good.”

The older we got, the better friends we became…And the more intense our fights got. I’d wake him up in the morning & he’d welcome me with a baseball aimed at my head. We’d wrestle & somehow I’d end up with a bloody nose because Johnny had ‘accidentally” kneed or elbowed me in the face… again. Our conversations shifted towards topics fitting our teen years… Sports. Girls. Music. His interest in “New Wave” fashion – he was a fashion-ista & rocked board shorts, surfer t-shirt & black/white/red Air Jordans as easily as he did cool pegged jeans, top-siders, & pastel button ups. Goodness, he was confident – so sure of himself, much more so than I ever was. I appreciated his strength, his sarcasm, his ability to show compassion, his loyalty, as well as the killer instinct on a football/baseball field. He was my best friend.

The memories whirl around me like I’m in the eye of a hurricane, & they’re flying around me, so vividly faint that I feel overcome… & I don’t want them to stop.


When Johnny was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, everything in our family got turned upside down. My strong, independent brother became fragile & dependent on others for the most basic of tasks. He spent quite a bit of his last months in San Francisco receiving experimental treatments in the hope that his body would rebound. I didn’t know how to deal with the hurt, pain, grief, & other negative emotions I felt, so I did what I knew: I poured myself into work, hoping beyond hope that when I finally lifted my nose off the grindstone, everything would be back to normal. It never happened.

And through it all, I watched my little brother Johnny grow as he experienced the closeness of a God who would never leave or forsake him, even when he was walking through the Valley of the shadow of death. In many ways, my faith in Christ had been theoretical – never before tested; then, right in front of my eyes, I got to see what it looked like to persevere in the face of adversity, to find joy & peace in times of despair & chaos. I got to see & hear the response of a 17 year old who was asked, “So, do you want to die in the hospital or at home?” He said, “I’m going home. And if I die, I will bring God glory. And if I live, I will bring Him glory. Either way, I win.” And he meant it.

In his last days, Johnny received assurances from heaven in the form of dreams. He didn’t go into a whole lot of detail about them, but there was a calm, a peace, a sort of anticipation present in his eyes & his countenance. He was in & out of consciousness quite a bit – one of the last things he said to my parents was, “Have faith. Have faith.” And he meant it.

Saturday night, June 16, 1990, Joni & I visited my parents home & Johnny in the downstairs – he was mostly out of it, but we hung out for a while & talked to him. We got up to leave & I told him I loved him. As I walked up the stairs, I can remember him faintly saying, “Love you Louie.”

We got a call from my mom early the next morning – Johnny had gone to be with Jesus at 4:34 a.m. Sunday, June 17, 1990. Father’s Day. His last words: “Help me Louie!?”

I’m still trying to “help him” everyday…


Within this last year, my two sons have gotten married; myWeez, my little princess, got engaged. So many things like this I wish I could share with my brother. So many things I wish my kids would have gotten to know about him, & having him involved in their lives. I feel like his physcial presence would more readily explain the passion with which my son Johnny attacks life; the fiercely compassionate temperament of my son Joey; the wit, sense of humor, & smile of theWeez. They’re a lot like him & don’t even know it.

I see Johnny in each of them, & I’m so glad that these parts of Johnny living on into the next generation.

So, in his honor, & to the glory of God I say to you today, “Have faith. Have faith.”

Happy birthday Johnny.

Francisco Aranda

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15

This afternoon at about 2p.m. Francisco Aranda died.

He was a hero to me – & was one of the key people that God used in my early days here in Reno to keep me standing, living on task, & what it meant to be faithful to the call of Christ.

I’ll never forget his answer any time he was thanked for one of the myriad helpful things he had done, for the people he fed weekly, for the odd-jobs he did to keep the physical building of the church looking good, & the prayers from the church flowing. He always responded:

…unto the LORD.

Heaven rejoices today.

Hope…

It’s #2 sons 14th birthday today – tomorrow, early in the a.m. he & I are off to San Francisco for a one-day speed tour of the City. We’re going to AT &T Park for a tour; to Ghirardelli Square for some chocolate & na-nas; to Pier 39 for… Pier 39. And maybe the Hard Rock Cafe. And then we’re off to the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center. Why a hospital?

#2 son has been asking a lot of questions about my brother Johnny – wanting to know him, reconstruct his likes/dislikes, experience the personality of the one uncle that he knows only through pictures, a few home videos, & the stories of those who knew him. A part of Johnny’s story involves his battle with cancer – & UCSF is where almost 5% of his life was lived – for treatment, recovery, & the like. And #2 son wants to know this place – & as difficult as it is for me to go there, with the painful memories, sorrow, & loss… we’re going.


Makes me feel a bit pensive – leaves me wondering, examining how I see the world, or how I view it. The lens through which I see it, a lens that I believe I am responsible for putting on/taking off. Watching the news, checking in with Drudge, hearing story after story of the dismal economy, holiday season layoffs, record high home foreclosures, equally high number of bankruptcies, & a war in the Middle East that just doesn’t seem to get any closer to resolution… a lens of ‘reality’… reminds me that I want to, I need to choose something different.

I don’t want to choose negativity, to speak words of ‘reality,’ death, nitpickiness, complaint, slander, criticism, harshness, destruction – over & about me or others. I think that I’m finding that a person will find just what it is that is looked for. And if my lens is negative, down, destructive, ‘reality based,’ I will find those things – & think on them. Talk about them. Spread the cloud of negativity like a flu-virus in the wintertime spreads.

I’m challenged to take on a new lens, one that almost feels forced, like a new pair of glasses that have never been worn, all the while knowing that the new glasses are the right prescription, & they fit like they should – but I’m so used to ill-fitting, poorly prescribed glasses that the real deal, the good ones don’t seem right. Its upside down, & I want to be right side up.

The new lens is to look to enjoy life’s relationships – rather than to pick them apart as inadequate, to place blame where its due -instead to be a radical extender of grace, esp. where it’s not ‘deserved’… as if I have deserved it ever? To look for joy instead of sorrow – to hope & to be filled with hope, even when the ‘track record’ tells me otherwise. To have faith, to believe against all odds that the One I serve really is able to move mountains. To perform what He says. To rescue. To deliverer. To transform.

Maybe this makes me an optimist. A deny-er of so-called reality… So be it. And my answer to you is:

Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia…. [W]e’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Puddleglum – The Silver Chair, from The Chronicles of Narnia

Here’s to looking for Overland.

Mickey

My brother, Johnny, was something of an artist – & the thing that we all wanted him to draw for us was his “Mickey Mouse” – just Mickey’s head. He’d sign the bottom of the picture with a flourish… we had tons of them.

Maybe it was because Disneyland is/was such a happy memory for all of us – one of our favorite places on earth to go together & spend time & build shared memories. Perhaps it was the Mickey Mouse pancakes that we ate at the River Belle Terrace… (which, by the way, my dad could make better & more of, for cheaper… :)

When Johnny got sick, drawing Mickey was a miniature vacation, I think, for him & for us. Throughout the illness & treatment, Mickey (along with baseball cards,) remained a way to escape the reality of what was going on, if just for a few minutes.


Here I am 18 years after his death, missing him. I regret that my 3 kids never got to know my brother personally… I am intentionally & purposefully trying to help them get to know Johnny & what he was like through stories, pictures, & the little things he liked & disliked.

And one of the things he liked, was Mickey. And when Mickey Mouse is around, it doesn’t seem like my brother is so far away, & it gives me hope for the time when we’ll be reunited.

Last Saturday, I got a Mickey tattoo on my left shoulder blade – because it reminds me of my brother, John Leavy Locke.

Friday musings…

It’s Friday… I’m Home Alone for my day off. Meaning, my family is all gone, at school, at work, or at Trista’s… there is a guy here wearing booties (how considerate!) & a big tool belt, taking lots of pictures of the structure & the ground. See, we’ve got a ‘warranty inspection’ for the 1 year anniversary of the house going on as i speak, so the whole, ‘stranger in my house’ vibe is happening & I’m pretending that its not. He’s nice, personable, & most importantly, is working on working, not on talking to me. :)


Wasser mit Kohlensäure is the best for quenching one’s thirst. I love it. Don’t like bubbles in your water? Give it to me.

Cleaned out my closet this a.m. All my clothes that don’t fit anymore… turns out I’ve been stockpiling old (& big) jeans, as well as worn out tshirts. I think the jeans are going on eBay (they’re new-ish… just about 4 sizes too big now, post diet). The tshirts are in the trash, with their holes & crusty stuff intact. Goodbye tshirts.

Cleaning out the ‘German Room” closet… for Julia. Countdown 4 days.

BBQ’d Tri-tip last night. 7 out of 10. Know what I’d do different to take it up a notch. Lower temperature on the BBQ, which requires a new BBQ. Or maybe a return to charcoal. At least it’s been confirmed that the gas beast we’ve got has officially given up the ghost. GRHS…

Life hurts. Sometimes more than others. I’ve been pondering Westley’s statement:
Life IS pain, highness. Anyone who says different is selling something.

I can empathize with Westley, (after serving on the Pirate ship “Revenge” under the dread pirate, Roberts, separated from his true love for 5 years… yeah, that would lead to such an outlook. But I don’t want to live carrying pain, as though the pain happened just yesterday, never working through, never getting past. Living in hurt. Woundedness. I think what I’ve found over the last year is that a key (THE key?) component of moving through & past pain, hurt, etc. is the grieving process. I have intentionally (& in some cases melodramatically) embraced the grieving process, staying in it, without apology, almost without regard for what others might think (have thought? & felt free to discuss amongst themselves…) Grieving. Feeling the fullness of the pain, the hurt, the sadness, the loss. And coming back to God’s truth about me, my life, my family, my relationships, my identity, my hope.

And the wounds haven’t festered. And I’m not minimized by my grief, my weakness, my own frailty. I feel as though I have perspective that I didn’t a year ago. I’m comfy in my own skin, & ok with the imperfect brokenness all around, & in me. Sigh.


A first for the clan: all 3 kids have games tomorrow, in 3 different sports. Pasty has football, Joey has fall ball (baseball,) & the Weez has Proper Football (known in the US of A as Soccer…) Yay.

emotional gas tank…


And I thought the price of gas was high.

One of the things that I’ve been learning about myself over the last 18 or so months is that I need to keep a watch on my emotional gas tank… it runs out way, way, sooner than does my physical tank. The problem is, my emotional tank lies to me. Tells me everything is OK. No worries. Coping just fine, thanks for asking. I’m doing Well.

It could almost lead one to think that the emotional gas tank was doing just fine. But I’m catching on to it…

So far, I’ve found that doing things & being around people that I enjoy (or enjoy me, take your pick) makes me feel about 83% better. And the rest of the refill might just be waiting for the time to pass to allow healing. I feel weepy, & cry at the drop of the proverbial hat. Oh, the joy of being around me.

And wondering… what refills your emotional gas tank? Or, have you discovered that you HAVE one?

Goodbye to Sue L. & other thoughts…

Good bye Sue L. You’ll be missed. Esp. when I’m trying to figure out what exactly the little knobbys do on the soundboard.


On that note: I wonder what part of our psyche is affected as we try to deal with the death of friends & loved ones… cause I know there’s a part that is numbed, & does everything possible to try to function like Everything Is Normal, when at the same time a logical portion of the mind(?) is stating, matter of factly of course, the ‘reality’ of events that have led to our friend/loved one not being on the planet.

I remember the 1st time I prayed after my brother’s funeral… it was bedtime prayers, of course, just me & the Bean. I was covering all the bases (meaning praying for family & extended family,) & I prayed for Johnny, Joel, & Ben… (their birth order btw…) It took about 10 seconds before I realized that I’d prayed for Johnny. And that he had died. And I knew it, & wasn’t in denial. But at that moment, I had thought, “I need to pray for him…”

And I cried w/the Bean. Tears of grief. Loss. Sorrow. Loneliness. And I thought about my brother, & wondered if praying would ever be the same again…


The numbness fades over time, but I don’t know if it ever goes away totally – maybe its a sorrow or the residue of missing someone. Or the part of our psyche that screams out, “NO!” & does everything possible to protect me from the pain of feeling.

I wish more people who knew my brother, talked to me about my brother. Cause, Man, that is the best. My kids never met their Uncle, as he died in June 1990, & the Pasty Gangster didn’t enter the world until 9/1991. I wish they could have known him, because he was a piece of work. (The closest to his personality is #2 son, Prince Darrell – esp. when he doesn’t get his way…) So, I want to reminisce – look at videos, & ‘introduce’ my kids to him… Because then, his memory is carried on by more than just a picture.


If a loved one or friend has died, keep talking about them. It helps.

Walking with a friend as they bury their wife is hard… but it would be harder for them alone. Life’s too short to do that kind of thing by yourself. Let’s not go solo.