When a parent, spouse, sibling, child, or friend dies, we grieve for our loss. As we continue to mourn, we wonder if we will ever find the love, companionship, or support that is now lost. While our loved one is physically gone, we cherish the memories of our time together. As the weeks and months pass, we may find ourselves wanting to make new connections, but are afraid doing so will dishonor our loved one’s memory.
Once we have experienced a satisfying relationship, we tend to seek new ones; often with someone who has similar traits and values as our loved one. In forging new connections that embody many of the attributes we cherished, we are actually contributing to our loved one’s legacy.
Last year, my close friend was devastated when her sister, her only sibling, died. She felt very lost and alone. I reached out to her frequently and just a few weeks after her sister’s death, my friend asked me if I would be her honorary sister. It was such an extraordinary privilege and changed the nature of our friendship. My best friend had died a year before and I had wondered if I would ever have such a special friend again. And now I do.
After we have participated in a nurturing and supportive relationship, we miss the camaraderie and love when it is gone. My mother, twice widowed, explained it this way: It was a compliment to a deceased spouse when the surviving spouse sought out a new relationship and remarried. She said it meant that they missed their partner and had enjoyed marriage so much that they wanted to experience it again.
It’s natural to want to cultivate new friendships, remarry, or have another child. In doing so, we are not replacing our deceased loved ones. Instead, we are expressing our desire to continue those wonderful, loving, and caring relationships because they meant so much and are truly missed. Our loved ones may be gone, but the legacy they leave behind in our desire to seek meaningful relationships with others is not easily forgotten.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now at a reduced price for e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.