When thank you isn't enough / by Amy DeRosia

"I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit."

-Dawna Markova

In today's world, we're more connected than we've ever been. We experience each other's happy moments in ways that have never been possible. But we're also exposed to more tragedy.

A few weeks ago a blogger I read and admire, Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend, died climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Trying to grieve the loss of an online friend is strange. You don't always feel like it's appropriate to be affected by losing someone you don't know well.

I found Scott's blog, Live Your Legend, at a time when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next with my life. He made me feel like becoming who I wanted to be was possible through weekly emails, blog posts, and courses.

In July of 2013, I met Scott in the hot dog line at the WDS closing party in Portland, OR.  I tapped him on the shoulder, told him I read his blog, and thanked him for his work. He said, "I'm glad someone reads it!" and gave me a big hug saying something about us being like family.

Here is a picture of him from that night. He was sincere, humble, had an infectious enthusiasm, and some intense dance moves.

Scott Dinsmore at WDS 2013 on right. CC photo by Chris Guillebeau

One of my initial thoughts when I found out that he passed away was that I was glad I got to say thank you. But since then, I've become more convinced that thank you isn't enough. I owe him more than that.

We get used to consuming work that "inspires" us and fallIng in love with ideas. But what good is all of that knowledge when it stays behind a computer screen? One of the best ways to honor someone is by living a better story.

 I  have no idea what the grief process is supposed to look like for any sort of tragedy that doesn't directly affect us. But I think there are some things we can do. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Find a way to honor that person or event. Share a story about them. Bring awareness to a cause. This is especially useful if you can connect with people who are affected by the same experience. The Live Your Legend community has been great about this. 
  2. Ask yourself what this is really about to you- what you admire about the way they lived or bothers you the most about the situation.
  3. Write down some concrete changes you want to make in your own life and/or in the world around you. Chelsea Dinsmore, Scott's wife, had a few practical ideas about this topic in a video she shared including: expressing gratitude, being kind to people, and unplugging from technology to connect in person.

We can fall in love with each other's lives and let our hearts break when something terrible happens. That kind of empathy and compassion keeps us human. I hope we all find our own ways to pay tribute to each other and let these experiences transform us into better people.

Have you ever experienced loss in an indirect way? What did you learn from that experience?