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Life Lessons from My Loss

Life Lessons from My Loss

My brother unexpectedly passed away yesterday. My entire family is devastated.

As I scroll through crazy texts from last week, reminisce about caring phone calls, and recognize that our annual holiday pilgrimage to Palm Springs will never be the same without him, I’m also reminded of lessons he taught me.

1. Find the funny

Whether it was dealing with the unscripted chaos of navigating a divorce or medical problems, my bro was quick with a quip. No gathering was complete without mascara running down my face from laughing so hard. (Louis: I’m trying hard to crack a smile).

2. Don’t Jump to Judgment

It was easy for folks to make quick judgment about Louis – a tall, imposing figure who oversaw the LAPD motorcycle fleet. Yet, he read and watched the news voraciously. It’s time to stop judging the book by its cover.

3. Embrace Metaphors

As the resident auto mechanic, he could simplify tough topics. For example, in determining if my sister should get rid of her car because both the brakes and transmission failed in the same week, he put it this way:  If your microwave dies and then next week your refrigerator gives up the ghost, you don’t burn down your kitchen, right? You just got unlucky this week.

4. Face the Future, Not the Past

His mantra was this: “Your car has a gigantic windshield for guiding you to new adventures and a tiny rearview mirror just so that you don’t hit anything on the journey.” Great advice.

5. Collect Your Catchphrases

One of my faves of his way: vu jade (vs. déjà vu) meaning did it once, don’t need to do it again!

6. Live Today Now!

He retired from the LAPD early because he calculated the costs against his happiness. Happiness won. He and I were also both fans of carpe diem. We didn’t hesitate, we didn’t wait, we just did it. We kicked to the curb the concept of “well, it will always be there.” No, as we’ve learned, events, trips, and people will not always be there.

It’s been a year beyond comprehension. We lost our aunt earlier this year and my mom 5 years ago. It brought us 3 siblings closer than ever. Now, it’s just two of us: Wendy and me.

Louis leaves behind his son, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends…and a legacy. I’ll miss him always.

  1. I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your brother Louis. He sounded like a great brother and I really enjoyed his very wise sayings/mantras that you shared; good advice for us all. Having said goodbye to my Mom over Thanksgiving last year and the passing of my oldest sister 3 years ago, I/we can relate to your sadness. Linda and I are sending condolences and prayers for God’s grace, strength and comfort to you and your family. Love, Jeff & Linda

    • Thank you for the kind words, Jeff & Linda. Losing moms, sisters, brothers, dads, and kids just hurts. I’m trying to find the goodness. Hugs.

  2. What a wonderful way to remember and honor your brother. I’ll be thinking of you.

  3. Liz: we haven’t talked in many years but I faithfully follow your blog. I know that a loss, especially an unexpected loss, is hard to bear. But it looks like he lived life to the full and left you with a few lessons. That’s all anyone can do. Your friend, Alok

  4. Dear Liz, I’m so very sorry to hear of this sad and sudden loss of your dear brother Louis. May some of the happy memories you shared together comfort you during the dark times.

    Catherine Mowbray-Lorenz

  5. Dear Liz,

    So sorry to hear your sad and sudden news. Your writing at a time like this was so poignant and helpful for all of us who have lost family.

    Your brother sounds like a sweet and spirited soul who added laughter and wisdom to the lives of many.

    Wishing you peace and healing.

    Warmest regards,
    Laura Darius

  6. Liz, I remember the feeling of emptiness I had after my brother died two years ago and how, in the days and months following, the hole in my heart began to fill with all the memories of what he was and how he had shaped me. The hole will probably never be completely filled, but it sounds like Louis was a wonderful person and left a lot of great memories that will begin, soon, to fill the hole in your heart. Sending love and hugs.

  7. Oh Liz, this beautiful tribute to your brother is a gift to all who read it. The lessons are profound and inspiring. That you could write and share these thoughts so thoughtfully and generously, even while dealing with such loss and sadness, tells me so much about your brother—and his sister. I send my hopes that fond memories fill your heart and soothe your loss.

    • Thank you, Barbara. I’ve been blogging for so long, it’s just therapy for me. Hoping my words heal others as it’s so painful.

  8. What a beautiful tribute to your brother, Louis! I can feel his presence even though I never met him. Thank you for introducing us to your brother. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing about him often. What a treasure! Writing is therapeutic and thanks for using it to get through your grief. This is a tough one…

  9. Hello Liz, my deepest condolences for your loss. Louis sounded like a great man. All the best to you and your family. With warm regards, Jeanne Driscoll

  10. So sorry for your loss.

  11. Heartfelt condolences to you, your sister and entire family on the bereavement, Liz. Reading your post, I felt Louis was really larger than life and I love his metaphor about burning the kitchen down. Wish I had him for a brother. You and Wendy are truly blessed.

  12. I’m delighted if I was able to capture the big teddy man of my brother – unlike anyone else. Thank you for your heartfelt words.

  13. Oh,Liz, it sounds like your brother had the same wonderful sense of humor and way with words that you do! I am sorry for your loss. When I lost my brother four years ago, I felt a big hole in my heart.

    • Thanks, Anne. It hurts so much that I thought I’d call him yesterday to cheer me up! And, then I remembered….I’m sorry for your loss as well as it is not an ache that goes away; that’s LOVE>

  14. Sorry to hear about your brother. Again sorry for your lossI meet him and most of your family back when your mother passed. I was with Barb at that time. I was researching your name in an attempt to find out what happened to Barb since I had not heard from her for some time. Her phone was disconnected and the Xmas card I sent her was returned. You answered my question in your comments above. I wish I had known
    at the time. Again sorry for your loss.

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