Honoring The Lost

Lessons From Those Who Lost Their Way

Michael Ken


There are no gifts in grief. Some would say I am wrong, that losing a loved one teaches us lessons of impermanence and gives a unique perspective that adds value to life. Be that as it may, anyone who has ever lost someone would immediately throw such “gifts” aside if we could trade it for one more moment with them.

It is natural to love people while they are a physical part of our lives, and perhaps to try and love them even more once they are gone. There is a certain dissonance that rings in our heads and hearts as we extend love towards someone who is no longer here. But I won’t stop. None of us will ever stop loving; we will always remember because we never want to forget. And while I am not sure if a memory can be loved, I know it can be honored.

To honor the lost, we must allow their lives to forever change ours for the better. This means changing our behavior; how we think, speak, and act.

These loved ones are our teachers. Their lives show us the price of acting or not acting, of showing or lacking discipline. They remind us what to do or not do; who to be or not be.

Losing someone is a tragedy when they leave before they can receive the many gifts life has to offer. And there were so many things I wanted for them. I wanted to see them confident with their identity, independent from controlled substances, and free from their self-loathing, self-pity, and self-hatred.

I wanted to see them happy, to experience the beauty, awe, and joy of life. To touch and taste the song, dance, and poetry of everyday living. To live fully, powerfully, and passionately; to love themselves the way we loved them. All these things, and more, I wanted for them.

Sometimes, I wonder what they would want us to know. If there was a way the lost could communicate with us, what lessons would they offer?

“Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Live and love as much as you can because the real heaven is the love shared between two human beings. It’s the place where all souls long to be.”

We best honor the lost by giving every gift we wanted them to experience to the one person who is able to receive them— ourselves. This is how we receive the gifts they left for us; this is how we receive back love from their memory. This is how the living honor and love those we have lost.

Dedicated to my late nephew Aaron on the anniversary of his passing, in remembrance of my late brother, Joe, and late friend, Todd.



Michael Ken

My journal about life in the woods. Visit intothewoods.blog to see my complete journal, photographs, and articles.