How Grief Teaches the Importance of Expressing Love

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The last two days have been a refresher in the importance of telling people how you feel about them every chance you get for me. Being an avid fan of the musical rent, I should not need the reminder. Walking through everything I walked through last year, with my immediate family and personally, I should not need the reminder. As I sit here writing and doing my best to process the last two days and my grief at the untimely loss of my friend, those are proof that no matter how present we think we are in our lives, and I thought I was present in the lives of those I love, we can all do better and be even more present myself included.

As soon as I got the news on Sunday night, I sent a slew of text messages to my chosen family because I wanted them all to know without delay before another moment passed how much I love every one of them and value their presence in my life. As a group we do a decent job of letting each other know how much we mean to each other, but it can never be said enough. I will never regret telling someone that I love them even if I did the same thing just the other day.

I also will never regret telling my chosen family how proud I am of each of them for what they are doing in their lives and with their lives. Doing just that earlier, the response from my chosen brother made me smile because I knew it was the right decision. At the most basic level, all of us just want to be seen and loved. Being able to help give that gift to my chosen brother today is a gift to me. His reaction made my heart swell with love and pride for him even further.

Grief is different for everyone, but for me right now in this moment it is the catalyst to do better by the people I love in terms of connection, so I have no regrets going forward no matter what happens. My friend left me a gift: an all too real reminder that no one knows how much time they get and to make every minute count. The musical we shared a love of is even more profound now. “No day but today” the word sung over and over in Jonathan Larson’s brilliant musical will forever resonate more than it already did because I will always remember singing lines from rent in between college classes with my friend who cannot sing with me anymore.

I will sing in her honor and remember the lesson she left me: do not wait to let someone know how much they mean to you. Make sure that they know as much as possible how much they are loved. She did not just leave that gift of a reminder for me but for all of you too in sharing memories of her and my grieving process with all of you.

She would probably be embarrassed by the tributes I have publicly given her, but using my platform to tell everybody I can to not wait to tell everybody that you love you do is one of the most profound uses of my platform I can imagine and it is a way to honor my friend who I did not keep in touch with as well as I could have and am going to miss until I see her again.

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