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Death Touched Me: A Grief Relief Column

was minding my own business, browsing up and down the tool aisle at my favorite store when I felt an icy chill envelop my entire body.  It was so real and so intense that it made me stumble a bit, causing me to look around and see if anyone else had felt it as well.  But I was alone and yet it felt as though someone else was standing right beside me, a presence unseen and it made me break out, first into a cold sweat and then a blazing heat and source of comfort all at once. Just as suddenly as it arrived, the feeling disappeared and I glanced around once again to see if anyone else was a witness to my experience, desperate for an explanation as to what had caused such an intense feeling.

Deciding to leave and head straight home, I climbed into my truck and started the engine.  Deep within my front pocket, my phone was ringing and it took me a moment to dig it out, dread suddenly filling my heart with unease.  The sound of my daughter on the other line was a memory I will never forget as she attempted to let me know that my wife was gone.  That’s what she said, or at least that is how I remember it, “gone”, like she had traveled somewhere and was never coming back.  Apparently, my daughter had arrived at our home to drop off the grandkids for the afternoon and discovered my wife, lifeless on the kitchen floor- apron on and a batch of homemade cookies still baking in the oven.  It was sudden.  It was unexpected.  It was the worst day of my life.

Looking back on that day, I can still remember how death touched me.  Was it in the form of my wife’s spirit who was simply coming by to let me know how much she loved me as she departed this world?  Or was it some premonition, some sense of foreboding that was trying to prepare me for the devastating news that I was about to receive?  Either way, it touched me and at the time, I did not like it, nor am I ready to embrace it presently, however I am starting to accept it as an unexpected gift.  Yes, gifts are supposed to be all about things that we welcome and enjoy, but in this case, if it was my wife who managed to engulf me in her spirit one last time before the “forever separation”, then I am truly blessed to know that we had that moment.

You see, when death touches you, your eyes open to an entirely different world.  Death creates feelings that rip and tear at your heart, and it also causes us to question our reality, our purpose and sometimes even the meaning of life.  In the beginning, it is difficult to navigate through but as time passes, it truly gives us insight to things and events that we never stopped to examine before.  It humbles us.  It teaches us and unfortunately (or fortunately) it serves as a lesson that continues to educate us for the rest of our lives.  With life, there is death, and knowing this, experiencing this, is a part of living that serves to remind us that nothing lasts forever- nothing except for our love.