I miss my friend Rob.
Robert Lloyd, one of my best mates ever, lost a long battle with cancer in November last year aged just 33.
There’s no kind of blueprint in our culture for dealing with that. We don’t particularly like to talk about death. Or have a strategy for mourning. So when it happens we all show up and hug a lot (too much, sometimes) and bring a plate of goodies and say a bunch of terrible well-meaning things and then quietly slink away into the distance.
I think most cultures probably mourn death better than mine. Whereas in white western culture we seem to want the thing to be over with as quickly as possible, other cultures tend to really give a lot of focus and attention on the event with feasts, wakes, and celebrations which can go on for days.
I am 42 years old and Rob is the first close and significant person in my life to have died and so I am also just figuring this out day by day. There is no rule book for how this is meant to play out.
My biggest fear at the time was that I was going to forget him too quickly, but almost five months to the day, I now know that is not going to be a problem. I think about him every day. Rob filled a certain space in my life that no-one else quite fills in the same way and so he has definitely left a hole. So when it comes to the kind of conversations I would have had with him, I still have them and try to imagine what he would have said to me.
I guess if I had to give some advice to someone else who is about to go through this, I would encourage them to find their own ways of remembering. For example, Rob’s best man pic from my wedding is the background picture on my phone. It makes me both happy and sad at different times. Happy ’cause of remembering and celebrating what a champion he was. And sad ’cause I just completely miss him all over again.
I think we would do a lot better in life if we created more spaces to talk about death, to remember those who have gone before, and to celebrate the lives of our loved ones.
What does mourning look like to you? Share some thoughts in the comments section below.