A regular customer on whom I relied has died

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my 50s and I own a drinking and dining establishment. I recently heard from someone that one of my regular customers had passed away. He was very important to me and had provided me with emotional support.

I run my business by myself after taking over from my mother. It’s been difficult to keep going, partly because of the pandemic. However, the man would call me to offer support whenever I was at my wit’s end. By following his advice, I was always able to get my life back on track. I relied on him a lot.

Once a year, he would give me a bouquet of flowers and a gift. Even now, every time I look at the gifts, I remember his strong and gentle hands. I didn’t realize until now how much I thought about that man to such depths.

I’m so sad, I can’t find the energy to do anything. Please provide me with some positive words to cheer me up.

— I, Hyogo Prefecture

Dear Ms. I:

It must have been a shock to you to be informed of his death, as you had no way of knowing that he had passed away.

To accept and move forward after the death of someone you cared about, you need to take time and reflect on how you feel.

You couldn’t share your grief with anyone at the funeral or the graveside, so you need to take some time to do that now. Mourn and heal in your own way.

How about symbolically laying out your friend’s favorite food and drink in a quiet corner of your place for a set period to help you get your feelings in order?

You also regret that you weren’t able to confide your feelings to him before his death. Perhaps you could express your sentiments in a letter; putting your emotions into words will ease your grief somewhat. Although you can’t post the letter, I’m sure it will reach that person’s heart.

There is one thing you can do for the man: protect and revitalize the precious place where his love and memories linger.

Someday, your business will bustle as it used to, and a smile will return to your face.

That will be your friend’s gift from heaven.

— Tomomi Fujiwara, writer