Primarily a tea drinker, fifteen years ago a friend of ours introduced me to coffee. I say introduced but what he really did was got so enthusiastic during his “coffee phase” that one could not help but to get a little swept up in the frothy wake! This same friend gave us a coffee machine that was initially intended to live at our CrossFit gym but through the somewhat sleepless years of the past decade, it ultimately came to live with us at home and has been a ceremonial part of most of my days ever since.
This morning as I went through the daily ritual of heating the almond milk and watching the coffee drip through the dispenser I reflected upon this friend, a friend who’s life that was cut short under shocking circumstances a week ago. Family and close friends are grief struck, children will grow up without a father and ageing parents won’t have him to help carry the load. There will be a void on every surf trip and four-wheel drive expedition in the future. Spaces, where he would once interject with humorous and often inappropriate comments, will slip silently by and in my mind, it will be these moments that he will be missed the most.
The work of wellbeing is not just about happy times. During hard times, particularly around grief or loss the skills of wellbeing can be something to hold onto to keep us afloat. In particular, the domains of strengths, relationships and emotions have been supporting our family over the past week in the following ways:
Strengths: We have been focused upon our friends’ strengths, namely humour, love, honesty and zest. Our friend lived his life with his heart on his sleeve, his openness was as disarming as it could be unsettling or challenging at times. While it did not always put him in good stead, most opportunities that life threw his way were meet with a cheeky grin and his “you only live once” attitude. His combined strengths (often overplayed) are what made him so lovable.
Relationships: Grief brings with it a unique opportunity for vulnerability and connection. Many of the connections with our friend in later life have been through CrossFit, of which has a somewhat traditionally masculine / paramilitary sub-culture. While the situation is tragic, it is heart-warming to see the softening of the souls who trained with him on and off over the years who were all frequent customers when he was going through his “café phase.”
Emotions: While obviously there are many strong emotions around us at the moment in our family we are intentionally spending time savouring to build some positive emotions in amongst the sadness. We are savouring his strengths and we are taking time to appreciate the relationships and random situations he connected us to. Most of all we are savouring that his was a life that was truly lived. He felt every day, he shared his experience in the world with us all, and in doing so he gave his authentic self to the world.