I’m writing this blog today as a tribute to my late grandfather, Ralph W. Luethke, whose beautiful soul left our world last week. Although different from my previous blogs, and perhaps unconventional, I’m posting this here because in so many ways, my grandfather embodied the type of leader I aspire to be.
Loss is painful.
We all experience loss at different points throughout life. Sometimes loss comes in the form of a job or a relationship, maybe it’s the place we’ve come to know and love when we relocate across town or across the world. Loss is a necessary part of our life experiences and even though it’s painful, it can be positive (e.g., the end of an unhealthy relationship).
The loss of someone we love touches the depths of our souls. There’s nothing like it. It breaks our hearts and leaves a lasting impact; we are forever changed.
I cannot iterate strongly enough the importance of having a support network, a village, a tribe to lean on in these times. Whether it is one person or many, this community is what will help us survive the loss. It is part of the mourning process to be together, to experience this loss together, to cry together, and in moments of rarity, even laugh together.
Over the past several days, I have been surrounded by those who loved my grandfather and those who undoubtedly love me. We share in this loss. The nuanced meaning of a hand on one’s shoulder is pure comfort. The connection between tearful eyes says, “I know this hurts right now, but we’re all going to be okay.”
In these moments, I find that I feel astonishingly fortunate despite the pain I am experiencing. It is a gift to be surrounded by so much love and support. Even though my heart is breaking, I know without doubt that I will be okay; we will heal from this loss although we will be changed.
When you experience loss – whether it’s right now or sometime in the future – I encourage you to reach out to those around you. Lean on the people who love you and allow them to help you heal.
The next several lines are written as a sort of letter to my grandfather. They read a bit more like a poem, though I didn’t pay particular attention to cadence or the number of syllables in each line, etc. As you read these words, I hope you might find a sense of comfort or inspiration. Thank you for taking the time to read today’s post.
I have always admired you.
In so many ways, I have aspired to be just like you.
You shared with me your unquenchable thirst for knowledge and endless sense of curiosity.
You saw beauty in all things, whether behind the lens of a camera or in giving refuge to the discarded treasure of others.
Your heart was ever light and joyful; taking every opportunity to share in laughter and celebration with others.
You gave reverence to all living things. Your kindness and compassion were boundless; always willing to share your time, your gifts, your knowledge with others.
You were a fierce and caring protector. Under your watchful eye, we thrived. You welcomed all into your home, your table, and your family.
You were assuredly peaceful in knowing that everything would turn out just as it’s meant to be; confident that you were exactly where you were supposed to be.
I am saddened that this world will not know your soul for another day or even a moment. To never hear you tell another story or watch you pour over the maps of our heritage again. These moments, like so many others, exist now only in our memories.
Your life of giving, nurturing, and loving the world around you is what you’ve left behind. This legacy, your legacy is forever etched on our hearts.
Finally your soul is free of its earthbound body. Truly this is grace.