The Dash

Post by Taralee Hurff for the Kind Kindred series.


photo courtesy of Timothy Vollmer on Flickr

Linda Ellis wrote a poem called “The Dash” in 1996. It is inspiring, thought provoking and the words have the capacity to literally change your life. Here is the link to the poem. Please take a moment to soak up the words that will flow effortlessly making perfect sense.

I read this poem now and again when I lose someone close to me or when I have someone in my life suffering from a loss or preparing for a loss. I prefer to celebrate a person’s life not mourn the loss, and this poem helps me to remember and focus on that. Celebrating the person’s life doesn’t make the loss any less painful and it doesn’t take away the questions of why or the unrivaled void you feel in your heart. What it does allow is the sun to peek out from the shadows of hurt, confusion, anger and fear. It allows you to smile when your eyes are clouded by the tears of memories that you are afraid will somehow slip away over time. Celebrating them keeps your hearts connected.

Think about the celebration that occurs when we are born, the love that surrounds us and the wonder of what we will become as we grow and live out our “dash.” What if we took that celebration to another level when a loved one’s time is called upon? What if we made it about really celebrating their “dash” and what they have meant to us? What if we paid our respects by sharing a favorite memory with their immediate loved ones or maybe having everyone participate in the person’s favorite past time? Think like the show Parenthood when the family played a game of baseball together to honor and remember the happy after losing their father and patriarch of the family. These types of moments, I believe, help us to let more of that sunshine come out of the shadows cast by death and loss.

I choose to remember moments of that person’s “dash” that bring a big heartwarming smile to my face or even cause the shed of a happy tear of a time we spent together. If it is a friend that is suffering the loss I want to be able to remind them of a special moment or memory that embraces them like a warm hug. There is no right or wrong way to handle the death of a loved one or the inevitable array of emotions that surround and sometimes consume us. There is no timeline on grieving. Ride the wave but don’t get lost in the rip tide. Remember, the ones you lost don’t want that for you. They want you to smile and live out the rest of your “dash” as abundantly and joyfully as you can. They want you to keep them close to your heart, not have their memory destroy it.

There are no promises of a new day, but there can be a grateful heart for every new day you are given. The poem hits the nail on the head. Life isn’t about what we accumulate or accomplish, life is about how we live and love and spend the time in our “dash.” Are you living and loving within your “dash” in a true and real way? Are you grateful each day? Are you showing and speaking your love for those that matter to you? Are you having meaningful interactions and creating joy in your life? The impending question is if your time is called upon at this very moment would you be proud of the things someone would speak of how you spent your “dash?”

Taralee received a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical/Counseling Psychology and Criminal Justice from Moravian College. She received her Special Education Teacher certification from DeSales University. Taralee is a NJ certified Teacher of the Handicapped, and has been working in the home and school settings for over 15 years. Taralee is currently President of the Board of Trustees for the Southern Regional New Jersey Early Intervention Collaborative, she is serving in her fourth year as a Board member. 
Taralee’s most important job is raising her three creative and inquisitive children (ages 9, 7, and 4) in Southern NJ. 
Taralee’s book “100 Things To Do Before You Are 10” was published in April 2014. 
Please visit her Facebook page or send an e-mail for ordering information.

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