Loss, love, light

Lately I’ve been thinking about loss. An anniversary of someone gone too soon has passed, and I’ve borne witness to friends experiencing devastating loss. I wish I could ease their pain, but really all I can do is recognise it and hurt with them.

I was thinking particularly of someone who lost a beloved parent, truly their best friend. There is a gap, a hole, a deep darkness in that person’s life now. In the immediate aftermath, when the grief is raw and palpable, I visualise the griever staring into the dark abyss. They shine all of their love into the darkness where once their love was mirrored and multiplied; in life it shone upon their face and glowed within their heart and soul. Now the dark hole of longing, missing and hurting sucks up the light and love that they faithfully shine into it.

All we can do is shine our love onto them from every other angle that we can; but don’t expect it to reflect back at a time like this. Hope simply that it warms their back or glances upon their cheek, and that it touches them just enough. Enough to keep them going through the dark times – until they find their own way to cope with the aching darkness and eventually redirect the light of their love to find a way forward and a way to remember and honour the one who once reflected and amplified their love so beautifully.

Why is someone beautiful to you? Have you got 5 minutes to go on a wee journey with me?

Think about someone you love, really love. Someone in your life that you adore to distraction. It could be someone living or someone that has now passed away. It could be your significant other, your child, a beloved grandparent, maybe one of your closest friends – the type that’s family in every way but blood. Thought of someone? Good.

Now, close your eyes, bring that person to mind and study the details of that face you love so much. Take your time, I’ll wait.

They’re really beautiful, aren’t they?

Now think about why they’re so beautiful. Make a list.

Maybe you brought someone to your mind’s eye that is catwalk material but I’m going to hazard a guess that the person you imagined hasn’t been approached by a modelling agency and probably never will be. The person you imagined was absolutely beautiful though, right?

What was on your list of things that made them beautiful? Was it the warmth in their eyes that reminds you that they’re one of the kindest and most thoughtful people you know? Was it the lines on their face that remind you of their contagious laugh and the way they brighten others’ lives? Maybe one of the things was an imperfection like a scar or stretch marks, something symbolic about your shared experiences or something you admire them for. Probably what you thought about was entirely different and totally personal to you.

There is an awful lot more to what makes someone beautiful than what they look like, wouldn’t you agree?

In real, every day life people become more or less beautiful to you according to who they are and how they behave. Someone you found stunningly attractive on first meeting can soon look ugly if their actions are unkind; and someone that you initially thought unattractive can become one of the most beautiful people in your eyes, maybe even someone you would bring to mind if asked to think about someone you really love. Some people happen to be utterly gorgeous inside and out, they just stay gorgeous to you or become even moreso – please don’t read this as saying aesthetically attractive people aren’t nice people, that’s certainly not what I’m saying.

I just want to plant a little seed in people’s minds to remember what real beauty is and to think twice about judging someone on appearance alone. It’s so easy to do, there is so much emphasis placed on physical appearance and unrealistic standards of beauty these days that it can become an auto-response. I find myself thinking things that I’m not proud of sometimes, but I’m trying to make a conscious effort to check myself when I do and remember that the person I’m judging is quite probably the most beautiful person in the world to someone that loves them and they’re right, not me.

Everyone is someone else’s beautiful – you are, I am and that person we just silently judged is too. We can undo the damage of harmful social norms by unjudging each other – we just have to want to. Let’s try.