I, along with many others out there, have been feeling down over the past week due to the tragic death of the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. I have always liked animals, even reptiles, and admired Steve’s passion for life, animals, conservation, and the environment. Although his death is not surprising in one sense, the fact that he was killed by a relatively docile stingray did come as a shock. His loving wife, Terri, his two children, and legions of fans will be mourning his loss for a long time to come.
Steve’s enthusiasm was infectious…he was a real life force. From what I read about him, his passion was real and not an act for television. One of the most touching things that I ever saw was an interview in which he described meeting Terri, whom he later married, at one of his exhibitions at his zoo. In his thick, Australian accent, he described how he was completely smitten with Terri the moment he laid eyes upon her…an instance of the fabled “love at first sight. ” The image of Steve describing his first meeting with Terri sticks with me more than any of his encounters with dangerous animals.
A saying that I have always liked seems approprite to Steve’s untimely death: The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. He shined so very, very brightly. His zest for life was a rarity, and it is very sad to see his flame go out.
Dealing with loss is one of the toughest things that we have to face in life. An unfortunate fact about life is that, unless we pass before our loved ones, we will experience the death of people close to us. There is no one “right way” to mourn…grief takes many forms and does often neatly flow into 5 different stages. I think it is important to grieve and acknowledge our feelings in a time of loss. However, it’s also critical to not get stuck in a state of grief. Bereavement groups, like the free ones offered by the Hospice organization, can be helpful. Staying connected with people is often beneficial in times of mourning, but you might find that some friends and relatives are more helpful than others at being present in times of grief. Healing after loss takes time…there will always be that hole in our heart but, over time, we will not fall into that hole quite so much.
Sometimes, when we are grieving a loss, we feel like we should do something. I think that asking ourselves, “What would our loved one want us to do?” can lead to powerful ways to honor their memory and help with the healing process. For Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, it is clear that he cared deeply for animals and the environment. If you are touched by his passing, trying to continue the goals he had in life is one of the most powerful ways that we can honor his memory. In a sense, Steve Irwin will always live on if we keep him in our memory and carry a little of his passion with us. Doing a little something to benefit the environment, conservation, or animals would be something that would have pleased Steve. Trying to weave Steve’s concerns into our daily lives, even a small amount, would be a wonderful part of his legacy. Also, on Steve’s website, there is a donation page on how to contribute to a wildlife fund to honor Steve and continue his work: http://www.wildlifewarriors.org.au/make_a_donation/
Thoughts and prayers go out to the Irwin family and to everyone who has been touched by loss.