Eccentric founding father Benjamin Franklin once wrote in a letter from 1789, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” This quote has been referred to repeatedly for the past 230 years. And while it may ring true to most, there have probably been just as many undiscovered tax evasion cases as references to his famous words. Still haven’t heard of any eventual death evasions, even though the jury is still out on Walt Disney.

The morbid reality we all live with every day, is that our physical existence here is temporary. We know this. While I’m sure the number of those in denial is greater than we can even imagine, most humans are quite aware that the day will come when the body they have inhabited will no longer be theirs. No matter what your beliefs, understandings or theories are of what happens to ‘you’ when your physical existence has ended, the outcome here on the physical plane is all the same. Those individuals who have served as your family, friends and acquaintances continue with their own journeys without your physical presence.

Coping with loss, grief, bereavement. Whatever name you give it, the concept is the same. People are creatures of habit. While we may not be completely aware of it all the time, we follow routines. Even the most spontaneous and carefree individuals will find themselves adapting to subconscious habits. And while we are also social creatures, these routines and habits include relationships with other people. We have significant others, family members, friends, enemies, teachers, our kids’ teachers, the friendly host at our favorite hangout, the list goes on. We create these relationships throughout our lives because they give us comfort. We feel internal satisfaction from the connection with specific individuals. So, what happens when those connections are broken? And not diminished by some superficial inconvenience, but ultimately severed by the absolute finality of death.

Coming to terms with the fact of death is an extremely complex process. There’s shock, sadness, anger, hopelessness, guilt. But why do we feel these things? We’re still here, we’re still alive. Why do we feel so much pain and hurt? Why do we feel as if we can’t go on without our loved ones? Or why do we feel such sadness for the loss of a person that we encounter only a couple times a year? While the level of loss we feel may alter depending on the strength of the relationship, it all stems from the same reason. That connection is lost. There are no new memories to be made with them, there is no opportunity to mend broken feelings, that comfort you once felt from the link between you is gone. Or is it?

One of the most beautiful aspects of human nature is our ability to create lasting and meaningful relationships with others. Another impressive aspect of human nature is our ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. These two concepts are how we survive after the loss of another. While our immediate central core is affected after experiencing a loss, we soon find out that our lives continue. The sun rises and sets each and every day, and we find ourselves gradually finding comfort in a new routine. While that routine brings us a sufficient amount of internal fulfillment, it still may feel like something is missing. This is when guilt may settle in.

How do we adequately keep that connection in a healthy way? There’s no one answer to that. This is the hardest part of continuing on and will vary in every single circumstance. There is no wrong way to proceed after death, there is only your way. Whether you choose to keep the memory of that person alive through stories, memorials, newly created traditions or even a simple thought or prayer directed towards them, you find a means to soften and minimize the emptiness you once felt. Maybe you find comfort when the individual’s physical presence lives on in another, through organ donation. No matter what outlet you personally utilize to continue finding strength and satisfaction through that human connection, your relationship with that person will never end. Physical existence or not.

While ‘death and taxes’ are said to be the only certain things in life, death seems to be an experience that we find to affect us on a much deeper level. Cherish your connections that are alive and breathing and continue to make lasting memories that will stick with you forever. Keep the memories alive of those connections that are no longer in a physical place. Treasure your own existence because you are a part of someone else’s comfort and contentment and assist them with creating life-long memories of you.

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Tess Abney was born and raised in the Quad Cities. Her passion for writing and entertainment was apparent at a very young age. Whether it is sharing local events and businesses with readers or sharing her thoughts on life, she finds comfort in the way words can bring people together.