All around this world, people are grieving. They grieve for the loss of family members, friends or maybe people they have never met, yet have watched from afar. They grieve for what might have been and the potential unrealized. They grieve, because to do so is human. This is not a post about how to grieve. I would never be so presumptuous about such an internal process. We all process loss differently. For me, I’ve always taken a logical approach. “He battled depression.” “He went to war with drugs.” “She couldn’t reconcile religion and sexual identity.” Others take an emotional approach. Both of us are looking for meaning in a pile of things that are often unknowable. This too is human. This too is part of the process.
No, this is a post about honoring the dead. This is a post about memorializing their memory. When we do, it should never be about drawing attention to ourselves, unless we can do some good. Case in point, this November, I will celebrate my 32nd birthday. On November 3rd, it will be the one year anniversary of my brother’s passing. I fully intend to give up my birthday to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I will use my brother’s story in an effort to inspire others and draw attention to a cause far too many of us are afraid to talk about. I feel that is my obligation. I feel like that is something I could do to honor Lucas’ memory, because if I knew him well, he wouldn’t want anyone to experience the pain he felt.
Now, I will begin the process of raising money to hopefully do some good. My goal is not to participate in the endless feedback loop of likes, shares and retweets. I am not making this my mission to get “attaboys” or even sympathy. I am doing this, because I have a powerful story; one that could be used to do some good. I am doing this, because I am great at my job. I can raise money with the best of them. Putting these two things together, I think we can change and possibly save some lives. Again, it isn’t about the recognition. It is about using these talents of mine to honor my brother.
This is how I can memorialize his memory, because his death will always be with me. But, I just don’t want to remember his death. We, as Americans, spend way too much time thinking about death. We consume ourselves with that marker on headstones. I often wonder if we remember what consumed the dash in between. We build giant memorials and cover vast plots of land to honor death. I understand this mindset. I have visited those memorials. I have walked among those headstones. As I did and do, I feel sadness not for death, but for the lives we lost. When someone is taken from us, we lose their potential. I can continue that potential we lost on November 3rd by raising some money. It is the least I can do.
As I do, I will be building a memorial to honor life. I encourage you to do the same. Have you lost someone to cancer or gun violence? Did your wife fall on the battlefield? Was your son addicted to drugs? If so, build memorials to honor their lives. Run a race for cancer research. Advocate for smarter gun control. Get involved in returning soldier support groups. Donate to community based nonprofits who provide substance abuse counseling. As you do, you will honor the potential that has been lost and begin the process of working toward the ideal of ensuring that no more potential is prematurely taken from us.
I firmly believe, this life and all of its highs and lows should be celebrated. I also believe in the cliché that it is always darkest before the dawn. If we are able to weather the storm, our ability to unleash creativity and goodness on the world is almost unfathomable. To do so, more often than not, we have to build and sustain some empathy. As we do, we honor those lives taken too early, but we also possess the very true and real ability to change the world. Nothing is more powerful than someone who gives a damn, because they’ve been through hell.
Thanks for entering my world,