The Dash

♫ This is the end, beautiful friend 
This is the end, my only friend, the end..♫

Lyrics and music by: Bruce Franklin, Eric Wagner, Rick J. Wartell, recorded by The Doors.


(© Copyright Peter Ward and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence)

Garry Wise, my co-author in our weekly column, had his mother pass away this past weekend.  Extending condolences and sharing his grief is only natural; but it started me thinking about whether there were anything we can take away from the grief and try to find meaning in the loss.

Another friend of mine stated that lives are represented by the dash that appears between someone’s birthdate and the day they passed away, as in [1930] – [2016].  Entire lives, loves, joys, marriages, births, heartbreak are contained in that dash. When someone close to you passes away, can you learn something from the grief? Marsha Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC in an article entitled “Finding Meaning in Your Loss” stated that there are lessons to be learned from grief.  She stated:

Losing someone you love teaches you to:

  • Stop, examine and appreciate what really matters, what’s important, what’s truly valuable in life.
  • Live fully in the present, knowing that the past is gone and the future is not yet.
    Appreciate the value and wonder of every precious moment, without taking them for granted.
  • Accept the freedom and joy of spontaneity, to play, to relax and to have fun.
    Find valuable insights buried in the give and take of daily life, to slow down, daydream and fantasize.
  • Simplify your life, so you have more time and energy to share with those you love.
    Accept what’s happened to you, roll with the changes and keep on growing, believing that you’ll make it.
  • Be patient with yourself, allowing the grieving process to happen in whatever way it will.
  • Keep and develop your connections with others, knowing that you are not alone.
  • Share your thoughts and feelings with others openly and honestly, and sooner rather than later.
  • Rethink your attitude toward death as a natural part of the cycle of life.
  • Be grateful for the love you shared, however briefly, and appreciate what you have left.
  • Define yourself as a survivor rather than a victim.
  • Share what you’ve learned with others. At some point in your grieving process, you may feel the need to channel your pain, as well as the time and energy once devoted to your relationship with your loved one, into something productive and meaningful. As one who truly understands the grieving process, you may feel ready to reach out to others who are suffering the pain of loss. Once you’ve found your own way through grief, you will have a great deal to share with other grievers: you can identify with their struggles, empathize with their sorrows and doubts, and offer valuable information and support.

Joel Readence writing in The HuffPost on “Death, Dying and Finding Meaning in Loss” stated:

For those of us left behind, it’s important we ask ourselves what our loved ones would want for us after they die. Would they want us drowning in the grief and despair of their loss, or would they want us to mourn, make peace with and move past their deaths? We also need to remember our time here is limited. We need to stop putting off until tomorrow, those things that will add value and meaning to our lives today. Don’t let fear of failure, success or judgment by others keep you from realizing your full potential. Give yourself permission to be all that you can be and unapologetically move in the direction of your dreams.

When someone near and dear to us reaches that final end point, realize that we still have some time left.  The passing of another can be used to find meaning and to push beyond the pain to find greater value in our lives.


  1. I think you got the writing credits for “The End” from Metro Lyrics and that those writing credits are wrong.

    Jim Morrison
    Ray Manzarek
    Robby Krieger
    John Densmore

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