“After much mental turmoil, my husband and I decided we would attend the funeral of a high school friend of Dani’s.
Danielle was living in Florida at the time, and when she heard of her friend’s passing from an accidental overdose, she was heartbroken.
‘Oh, Mommy, will you please go? For me?’
Attending the funeral of a 24-year-old young woman was so scary.
So ‘impossible’ to get my head around.
My heart broke for her parents and her young child.
Her family and friends would all be there crying for the life lost—cut way too short.
Their pain is unimaginable, and no words of comfort are to be found.
Little did I know—fast forward 9 years—it would be my turn to greet the guests at Danielle’s Celebration of Life.
My husband and I did attend, supporting them with the only thing we had to give, our presence, prayers, and love.
Unbeknownst to us, the pastor officiating this service actually was the same wonderful man who officiated our wedding 8 years before.
In the midst of such sadness, it brought to mind one of the absolute best days of our lives.
The blending of our two families on January 4, 2002.
The smiles and happy tears all 8 of us shared on that day, each one of us promising to love each other ‘all the days of our life.’
As I came back to reality, I am unable to recall much of the sermon that day, but one thing the pastor said has stuck with me forever.
Little did I know I would use this message again and again.
Once, I watched my sweet momma get ravaged from cancer and suffer a very slow and cruel death, and a second time after losing my 33-year-old daughter, Dani, to suicide.
‘When life is hard, as we know it will be, I want you to do something for me.
When you walk through the photo gallery in your mind of all the good and bad times you had with the loved one you lost, be sure to place all the painful pictures in the back of that gallery.
Don’t visit that part of the gallery often, but walk slowly and concentrate on the happy and beautiful photographs in the front.
Of course, the pictures tucked in the back will always be there, but fill your mind and your heart with all the good memories your loved one left you.
And with those, you can make it a day at a time.’”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Donna Mencini Heck from Mansfield, Ohio. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Blog, Facebook, and Website. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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