Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed. – Bob Riley
I will never forget the first time someone close to me died. My emotions were a scattered mess. Sadness engulfed my heart as well as disbelief. Everyone in my family had their own connection with this significant person’s meaning in our lives, and we all handled our grief differently. Some were tremendously sad, while others became distant and angry and some simply could not or would not accept the reality of her demise.
Just like raising a child, there is no handbook on how to feel, what to feel and at minimum, what to say to when someone who has suffered a great loss. Each of us will inherently deal with the pain the best we know how in the moment, and what that looks like will solely depend on the individual and their make-up, faith, and belief system.
What I have learned from that experience almost three decades ago is life certainly does not stop moving, so what we learn to take away from painful moments can be life enriching or literally become detrimental to our emotional well being if we allow them to be.
It’s not enough nor is it helpful to say to someone, “hey get over it, they’re gone already.” However I have learned over the years, with the help of some thoughtful friends, family and good counsel that the darkest moments in our lives have the potential to become our greatest moments of triumph and breakthrough. The work is not easy and at first the moments may seem faint, insignificant or unworthy to discover, but the opportunities exist and are waiting for our hearts to open so we can capture them and begin our undefined journey.
Death, divorce or the loss of anything/anyone significant hurts to the core, no matter who you are, but as life continues to move forward, we also have the opportunity to move forward with it. Once we accept the facts as they are, we can begin to see what we’re supposed to see. We can begin to see the gifts that were left for us to open, understand and learn from.
For years after my first divorce, I use to say, “this was not supposed to be my story.” But once I begin to accept the fact that it was, I was able to embrace that truth and learn from my reality (albeit painful) versus where I thought I should have been. During that time it was as if I were living in parallel universe, all the while banking on something that was not to be, digging my heart deeper into an illusion, altered by my own way of thinking, while simultaneously keeping the pain fresh and active within my soul.
So once the blinders of my reality came down, there they were. The gifts that is, speaking to my heart and soul as if they were waiting for me to discover them. So my grandmother died and I wasn’t prepared. Who is ever prepared for death? But she left a legacy of love, great memories and kindness that still transcends time, and even though the last time I saw her was only for a short moment, it was a great moment and to this day I still drive by her house when I visit my hometown. I’m no longer sad, but grateful for her life, what she instilled in my mother (her daughter). From her death, I learned something about life. That it is precious and we must all live it with no apologies or regrets.
What has your dying experience taught you? What are you learning from life and others? What are you sharing with the world? What matters to you today that didn’t last year? The gifts are out there waiting to be discovered. Press through the pain and see what’s there for you. Go through the arduous process, which requires longevity and includes being misunderstood, self-doubt, more pain, sleepless nights, ridicule, loss of friendships, judgement from others that mean well, and probably more pain. However somewhere along the journey you begin to to see, understand and become aware like never before.
You begin to live and live with intention.