It was a cold spring morning and the sun peeked up from the corn husks in the field outside my window. I heard the baby stirring in his crib and knew he'd be hungry but waited for his cry. The pediatrician cleared him as a thriving infant a few weeks before, after his lungs collapsed, and told us that it was good for him to cry because it helped exercise his lungs. Waiting a few minutes more, I rolled over and brushed my 3-year-old's hair to the side so I could kiss his forehead. He'd climbed in bed with us the night before and was sound asleep, allowing me a few moments to lay there in awe and gratitude for the family my husband, Carter, and I created. Ten years before, my brother, who was my only sibling and best friend, passed away, and lying in bed that morning, I finally felt a sense of healing. I felt whole and complete after years of being torn apart.
The baby started to cry, so I popped out of bed to feed him. When I returned to get dressed for the day, I suddenly froze. Facing into my closet, I couldn't move. A rush of fear washed over me, and I realized I could hear the dog snoring, my 3-year-old mumbling in his sleep, but I couldn't hear the heaviest person in the room breathing. I whipped around and ran to the bed. "Carter! " I gasped. My husband lay on his side with his arm bent around his face. I put my hand on his shoulder to try and wake him, but his body was cold, stiff, and rubber-like. In a flash moment, I knew that he was dead.
What happened next was mayhem. From the moment I dialed 911 and through the next three years, I'd find myself in a pool of grief so deep that I lost my will to live. Had it not been for my baby boys, I would have given up and not pressed on along the horrifically painful healing path. My perseverance, however, led me to lessons that saved and changed my life. Today, I am one of the happiest women I know, living an amazing life I never dreamed possible, even before my losses. Here are the top three bits of wisdom I'd like to share if you or a loved one is in the midst of grief.
1. Find Out What Healing Really Means
I decided I'd stop at nothing to find out what healing really meant after finding myself on the floor of my bedroom closet with a gun pressed against my temple. It's easy to say that you'll never heal from loss, but if you don't know what healing really means, then you might be unknowingly sabotaging yourself. What I found is that healing is transcendence. It's when we move our awareness away from the wound itself and instead focus on the lessons, messages, and gifts the wound has to offer. Adjusting our focus doesn't mean that we forget or ignore our loss; it just means that we consider the greater meaning behind what's happened and live through the wisdom we take from it. This is very challenging, but it's enlightening and precisely what we need to move forward.
2. Pity Is a Powerful Poison
It's nice to know people feel bad for you and comforting to think they share in your pain, but to rebuild our lives, we have to stop feeling bad for ourselves and eventually, ask others to stop feeling bad for us as well. I asked my God for strength, stamina, and clarity instead of pity, and in time, I found all three. Essentially, this empowered me to let go of the victim's role and freed me to become anything I wanted to be. If you don't believe in God, you can ask the universe or your higher self for the guidance that you need to move forward. Having faith that there is something bigger than you at play helps tremendously.
3. Seek Mentors
After reading umpteen articles on grief, the stages of grief, what it means to grieve, grief during the holidays, how to grieve a loved one on their birthday, and more, I got a horrible headache from banging my head against the wall. None of it helped me, and that's because grief is messy. It's not formulaic and can't be explained linearly. And while I commend all authors who address it, I couldn't find an article or book that I related to in the slightest. Later I'd learn that I didn't relate because there were deeper issues in my subconscious that were causing significantly more pain than any writer could describe. So, instead of taking the traditional route with therapy, counseling, and support groups, I found mentors who would help me understand more than just my loss. Many of my mentors don't know me personally but it has been through studying their work that I've come so far. I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't seek therapy, counseling, or support groups. I'm merely encouraging you to go one step further and engage someone you trust who can light your path.
Since I've done the work along my healing journey, I've been richly rewarded. Today, I'm remarried to the second man of my dreams, I have two beautiful stepchildren, my boys are thriving, and I'm living my soul's purpose abundantly. I am very proud to say that I turned mayhem into magic and miracles, and I know you can too. My heart is with you, and I wish you many blessings along the healing path. Never give up; you can heal your life.