What do you do with all that pain? How do you take another step when the load is so hard to bear? When will all this go away? When will I smile and laugh again?
These and so many others were questions I asked myself over the past four years. My questions came as a result of my daughter's death, but I have come to understand that 'loss' in general leaves so many of us asking these very same questions.
I began my 'Psychology of Grief' class yesterday and as I looked over my notes, I realized that grief has so many faces. Yet the pain, the devastation and uncertainty is the same. As the professor began the class, my fellow classmates and I began to share, to talk about our stories. I learned that another classmate is also suffering through the death of her child; another is coping through divorce; still another the loss of a limb. It made me realize that these were all 'deaths' in one form or another. As I listened to the stories, I could sense the pain, feel the anguish, and hear the uncertainty in their voices. Like me, they had picked themselves up, they had put on a happy face, and they were working towards understanding, acceptance, and all it has to offer.
This stayed with me all day today, and as I read a few chapters from "Amazing Grace For Those Who Suffer' by Jeff Cavins & Matthew Pinto, I began to see the common thread, the unmistakable human desire to overcome, to survive, to cope and to find our way out of the darkness; whatever that darkness may be. By nature, I am drawn to stories of encouragement, of overcoming obstacles, of peoples' victories over adversities; and since Rachel's death, stories of parents’ survival after the death of their child. So it should come as no surprise that I chose to read two chapters 'From Death to New Life' by Dr. Kim Hardey, who shares his journey after the death of his son; and 'I Choose God' by Janet Moylan, who shares her story of grief over the deaths of her husband and daughter on the same day. In both of these stories, they looked to the support of others, to their inner strength and their belief that God would see them through their pain.
These stories and the stories of people I have encountered over the years, fills me with hope, helps me find healing, and gives me the courage to face each day. I have been blessed over the past few months to hear from so many of you who read my simple words, my ramblings, and honor me with your stories, sharing your pain and triumphs. When I can, I share some of the journeys with you. Why? Because I know my pain, the pain of a mother, a father-less daughter, but I do not know YOUR pain. By sharing your stories, as well as my own, we are able to help each other, to see beyond our own pain, to know that someone else understands; that someone else has made it through the darkness, and most importantly, that there is hope!
There are so many ways people are grieving, so many losses I personally do not understand, and yet there are as many different ways of coping, as different as each and every one of us. Rachel's death has opened my eyes, my heart and mind to others pain and suffering, to seeking ways to console, reaching out through my pain to ease the pain of others. To understanding that I am not alone, none of us are, and that only when I reach out to others, am I able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I love the expression ’Grief shared is grief diminished' (Rabbi Grollman) and nothing can be further from the truth.
We are all travelers on this journey called life, we sometimes encounter detours, sometimes it is all uphill, and sometimes we find ourselves totally lost, but we can also find the clear, downhill road that leads us to joy and happiness. Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933) says it best, 'We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.' So whether you have a small bundle of fuel or years of reserves, now is the time to start burning it, and allowing it to take you to beyond yourself, to places you could never imagine. To life, love and all that lies ahead waiting to be discovered.
Blessings! and until we meet again.