Sunday, September 6, 2015

Richard Edler Words of Wisdom

I only met Richard Edler once. It was at a Regional Conference in Scottsdale, AZ, 15 years ago. For the first time since my daughter died in 1994, I listened to a man who made so much sense to me; what he said, how he acted, his humor, his whole being radiating warmth, compassion, and the caring attitude of one who wanted to help all of us who sat there listening intently, hungry for some knowledge and words that would help us move on with our lives. Clearly, those words came, and I treasured them, for not many years after that, he died suddenly, joining his son Mark, who had died 10+ years earlier.

Richard Edler was a popular and brilliant, eloquent speaker at Compassionate Friends conferences, husband to Kitty and father to Mark. Kitty is still active and a staunch supporter of The Compassionate Friends where she lives and also on the national level.

Below I have printed some of what I call Richard’s “words of wisdom,” three valuable lessons he learned going through the grief journey. Read them and see if you don’t agree and if they help you understand what you are going through.

“Life goes on and we must too. Gradually the pain eases and the warm memories replace the sadness. Gradually, we return to life. One day we find that it is 11:00 in the morning, and we have not thought about our child yet. At first we feel guilt. But then we also realize we are going forward. We will never forget. But we decide that the loss of our child will not be the all-consuming factor in our life. We choose to enjoy friends again. We choose to go out to dinner again. We choose to laugh again. I am convinced that this is what our children would want for us. The pain does not bring our child back. It only makes us miserable without end.

“Become grateful for what we have, not focused on what we have lost. I see people in our chapter meetings who have gone through every parent’s nightmare and want no part of life again. But, I ask that these compassionate friends also think about the ways they have been blessed, as well as hurt. In my experience, most people have more to be thankful for than they realize: health, other children, a loving family, a career they enjoy, financial security, life in a free country, a faith that works for them, a true best friend, a spouse who they love. Nobody has it all. But compared to most of the world, we have a lot.

“The life we now lead will be better than it would have been. That does not make our child’s death a good thing. It just means that our child’s life mattered, and it has changed us forever. It means that in some small way the world will be better because our child lived, and we are the ones who can make it so. We have a new sense of priorities. We don’t sweat the small stuff. We know what matters because we know what is irreplaceable. And we know how deeply other people hurt because we, too, have been there. We know how they feel.

“And when our life is different and better because our child lived, then that child is never forgotten. Each of us would do anything in the world to go back in time, but we can’t. It is up to us now to go forward, and we can.”

Note: Next Sunday I write about another very popular speaker's words of wisdom for bereavement groups across the country and also one who died far too young: Darcie Sims.

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