I have been thinking last week a lot about Jane’s views on burning bridges, or more specifically how you should never burn a bridge with a person or a company. She felt that no matter why you wanted to end a relationship, whether a personal one, a friendship or a working relationship, that you should try and end on a good note. That might sound like a contradiction, ending something that has soured on a good note. Particularly if a line has been crossed or a wrong done by the other party.

However, this view was often accompanied by another of Jane’s favourite sayings, which was that; you should be nice to people on the way up the corporate ladder as you might need their support on the way down.

Of course, she was right, and despite being Buddhist, my autistic thinking style of fixating on the things that went wrong and analyzing them to the nth degree, does not make this easy for me. I had a moment this last week when I could choose to save a friendship or compound the issues, which would probably have burnt the metaphorical bridge. I hesitated briefly, reflecting on my perception of the wrongs done to me, and then chose to move forward positively and save the friendship.

Forgiveness was easier than I thought it would be. The world did not end, my emotions did not spiral out of control. The perceived wrongs really did not matter in the grand scheme of life. Life that is so tenuous, that can end at any moment, in a myriad of ways. The fragility of this thread we call life was reinforced over the weekend, with the death of a friend of a friend. A death that has devastating impacts for so many people across the world.

I was reminded how lucky I am, that in my loss, I was surrounded by aroha, by people who love me and care about and for me, who responded with kindness. And that I could manage frozen bank accounts, six months waiting for probate, six more months waiting for things to be resolved. That I had a lawyer who was not excruciatingly expensive, and Jane left behind a watertight will that did not cause any major issues. That although her death was sudden and unexpected, that we had spend the last year making sure she said goodbye to people and places, even if they were not fully aware of that at the time.

Make sure to tell your loved ones that you love them, to appreciate the people near and far that bring positive things to your life. Their life or yours may go in the blink of an eye, the crashing wave of an ocean, the squeal of a car brake. And then it is too late. The loss does not need to compounded by guilt about things left unsaid or sorrow in regards to harsh words ringing in your mouth and their ears.

I could do nothing for my friend but be there and agree that life is unfair. Their grief and sadness washed through me and dwelled in my heart as I thought of all I lost when Jane died. I sat with my sadness for a while, then moved in gratitude for all I gained whilst Jane was alive and all she brought to my life. I have a choice, to walk forward with gratitude or sit with grief. I choose to do both, to acknowledge the grief and truly feel it when it arises, but then to actively move my mind into that place of gratitude. This may not be possible for you, that’s ok. It is ok to not be ok. Reach out for support if you are not ok, so that others can walk alongside you to make sure you don’t fall too far.