UNITED STATES—There is one thing in life that we are all promised: death. A tragedy recently transpired in my personal life where a close family member passed away. It was all the more tragic because it was a sudden death that was unexpected. I have been to more funerals in my life than I can count and to be honest, this is one that I am not looking forward to. Why?

It just reminds you that life is precious. You never know when those closet to you or that you care about dearly will go on to the afterlife. The notion of going to a funeral just oozes dread all over my body. I hate funerals, and I don’t know if it’s the fact that I know something is final; that I’ll never get to see this person again or if it’s the realization that one day that will be me in that coffin.

It’s not that death scares me; it’s more knowing that I lived a fulfilled life with no regrets that always seeps in the back of my head. I want to know that I’ve done all that I’ve wanted to do and never second guessed anything that I’ve done. I can understand in some cultures why the grieving process is not prolonged. When you prolong something it creates anxiety; it’s almost like getting something over with quickly soothes you from that emotional rollercoaster that death can be at times.

We all grieve in mysterious ways. Some let out a massive cry, some don’t cry at all, some invest themselves in work and others utilize creative thinking and the arts to occupy the mind. That is the thing about death: its presence is an odd one. You never know when it’s going to make its presence known and sometimes you don’t know what to say to someone who is grieving. I think the best thing I’ve learned is sometimes saying nothing is key!

Just be there for your loved one, don’t ask them how they are doing, and if they need something just be present for them. If it’s something they truly need, they will come to you. They will talk to you. They will let you know what they need and how you can best assist them. I am learning to be patient with things like that because I don’t want to encroach on someone who might not be ready to talk. You cannot force a conversation that someone is not ready to have. Give it time; let them deal with the various stages of grief.

As devastating as death can be sometimes, I’ve discovered that it brings families much closer. We sometimes don’t realize how important family is until those close to us are no longer with us. With that being said death forces us to realize how precious life is; focus on the things that matter most and leave those little things behind.