A woman I had known for a long time as a rather distant friend happened to live in a community to which I moved some years ago. She was about 15 years my senior. I didn't expect to see much of her, but we became regular bridge partners and thence, close friends. Despite some problems with joints and muscles, she seemed in good health, and so I was surprised and upset to learn last summer that she had suddenly died. I was also upset because nobody I knew could tell me the cause of her death. Considering her age, I have no excuse to be surprised at her death, but she wasn't "sick," the last I knew.
I am finding the best way I can deal with this is to try to focus on gratitude for the several years that our lives really overlapped. Today, as it happens, I have received a bunch of compliments on a shirt I am wearing, which actually belonged to the decedent's mother (!) who died around 2000. The shirt was given to me as my (then distant) friend was in the process of trying to settle her own mother's estate. The fact of wearing it at the same bridge club where the mother probably played 30-40 years ago creates a sense of connection that is not entirely illusory -- because a lot of people at that club do remember my deceased bridge partner, if not her mother.
Joan comments: We humans have a huge need for something tangible to hold on to, especially in matters of the heart. Your understanding of the grace of the special shirt falls squarely in that reality. And it is good news that you have found gratitude as a valuable way to help you cope with your understandable feeling of being upset. These two approaches – having a special “thing” to hold on to and turning to gratitude for what you were given while she was alive are two excellent resources. Thank you for sharing.