When I’m gone—you will be okay. It may not feel like it on that first day or even the first year. But just as my mom’s last words to me were, “I know you are going to be okay, Kayla”—I promise that you too will be okay.
Here are a few words of advice for when you start your expedition to being okay on grief’s long journey.
When I’m gone make sure you always pause with delight in the presence of fireflies.
Take time to observe the random bunny crossing your path and delightfully squeal, “Bunny, bunny, bunny” at the top of your lungs.
Savor all the detailed flavors in a piece of chocolate.
Take deep appreciative whiffs of the flowers you encounter. Rub your fingers over herbs as you pass them and genuinely inhale their delightful aromas.
Live towards fear. When you are afraid—do it anyway. Success or failure is irrelevant—it’s the doing that matters. Do it scared. Move forward even if you feel paralyzed with fear.
Get out of bed every day. Don’t let sadness suck you into the depth of depression—which is the real monster under your bed.
Indulge in baths—even two a day if your body, mind, or spirit calls for it.
Drink in the intricate beauty of the world around you but don’t disregard the mundane. God’s creation is in every breath we take.
Sniff everything so that you know all the dimensions of life. Plant lavender wherever you live. Help it take root even when the conditions are not perfect.
Talk to strangers. Say please, thank you, you’re welcome, and always always make eye contact.
Love wastefully. Know without a shadow of doubt, that I have loved you with my entire being every day of your lives. Even on the hard days.
Give yourself away. Focus on others until you can build up the courage to look deeply into the parts of yourself that need growth. It’s easier to focus on building up others around you. In the motion of helping someone else you will be inspired into your own growth spurt.
Build what you need on the way down whether it’s a parachute, a landing pad, or a ladder. It’s never too late.
Make up words. Use sound effects in your language. Mispronounced things unapologetically. Make sure what you say is always tasteful—you never know when you might have to eat your own words.
Live boldly. Use broad strokes upon the canvas of life. Make sure you color outside the lines sometimes too.
Smile with your whole face and even some of your body.
Have conversations with cats daily. Talk to all the passing dogs and maybe even their humans. Listen to what they all say in return.
Love yourself but insist on self improvement. Grow right where you are planted. Like the cistus flower—you too can grow in the crevices of life.
Listen closely to silence. When life feels too hard, drop to your knees and give it to God—even when you are not sure He is there. He is. He always is—even when we don’t show up to meet Him. In the silence listen for His still small voice.
Remember humans are deeply flawed. Our interpretation isn’t always right. Our sinful nature leads people astray. That’s mankind—not God.
When I’m gone you will be okay. I promise. Don’t reach for me in vain—I will have entered the presence of God and will no longer dwell in this broken body.
Do your best in relationships. If you need to change, do it without hesitation—all while understanding that sometimes you have to walk away.
Be inspired daily. Pass on inspiration to others. Say nice things to people. Find something to complement in others. See the good in people but also don’t ignore the bad.
Find yourself in the woods sometimes. Listen to the sound of the earth responding to your footfall. Inhale the earthly textures.
Life will call out to you—listen closely. Be at the ready. Be open. Accept the challenge.
Put your feet in the ocean. Breathe in the ocean air. Run into it fully clothed sometimes. Explore below the water. Run your fingers through tide pools. Orchestrate crab races and cheer on the little guy.
Encounter every body of water. Submerge yourself into freezing and warm comfortable waters. Experience them both.
Fall down. Get back up. Trip through life if walking is a challenge. Fall forward into the abundance around you.
Climb everything. Views should be seen from all angles.
Never be afraid to ask for help or get mentorship. Humble yourself regularly. Be a perpetual student of life.
Sing silly songs. Speak gibberish. Make up terms of endearment, meine Kinder-Schokolade.
Live a full life. Celebrate the commonplace. Sometimes it’s everything to take a step forward. Celebrate that. Throw birthday parties for your cats and dogs and loved ones. And consistently connect with each other.
Always carry water with you. Because while delighting in the whimsical parts of life, you still have to be practical about some things. And water will always be one of those things.
Show people grace. Pause. Listen. Forgive. Love each other with abandon. Say the hard things and listen when you have to hear those same hard things about yourself.
Above all, never forget, that the meal is over when the cheese is gone.
(Note to the reader: I was inspired by a funeral, the above photo, and some free time on an airplane to write this to my childen. Nothing is wrong with my health. At the funeral I thought that it would be so nice to hear what advice the deceased had to say. We do not know the number of our days. I encourage you to write down or record advice for your loved ones too. )
Kara B says
Oh! I loved this so much. I always want to write something like this for my loved ones when I am gone too. Inspiring! Thank you. ♥️♥️
Thank you Kara. Yes! Set aside some time to write something for your family and loved ones.
Kayla, my husband and I met you mom in Coupeville at an art show. We later went to her studio and we’re lucky enough to have one of her paintings. It’s of two geese feeding on a crust of bread. As I recall, the inspiration for the painting was a photo she took in Germany. You mom was a lovely person. I’m sorry for your loss.
I know exactly which painting you are talking about. I love that one. She was amazing and it gives me great joy to know her art is still enjoyed.
I will be saving this. It will be encouragement for myself after my husband succumbs to the damned cancer. I needed this today,Kayla. Thank you!
Oh Lee! I am so sorry. What a hard journey. I am glad I could give you just a little bit of what you needed today.
Your words brought me to tears. I felt your heart in them, Kayla.
Thank you. That means a lot to me.
You have to lose someone close to you to really and truly appreciate these words I think. Beautifully done!
Thank you. The depth of loss can greatly impact how the words impact you.
Beautifully written. Your children will certainly find solace in reading your poetic, but wise advice. We should all leave a written piece of ourselves for our families.
Clara Ruffin says
Kayla, I have never met you but heard of you through Renee Sanford, my friend and David Sanford’s wife. At this stage in my life, I find strength and courage in what you have written. What a great idea to leave your loved ones a piece of yourself! I plan to leave words of endless love and debatable wisdom that come from the tablets of my heart to those I leave behind. Interwoven all throughout is great love. Thanks!