When my son died in 2010, in those first few weeks and months, I had a hard time feeling as though my life still had any meaning. Being a mother to my son had imbued my life with meaning; motherhood was my purpose. He was my raison d’être, my reason for being.
Perhaps a little too co-dependent for my own good, but that’s how I rolled back then.
His death brought that whole life construct crumbling down. I was adrift. His death seemed random and pointless, and I believed my life no longer had meaning. I felt useless, and that I was taking up precious real estate on this overpopulated planet.
Which was ironic and troubling because that is probably exactly what my son was believing and feeling when he consumed the two bottles of pills that ended his life!
When we lose our sense of meaning or life purpose, we become untethered from this terrestrial and embodied existence.
In the ensuing years, I have worked tirelessly at finding a purpose again. People have repeatedly asked me (when they learn I am a mother who no longer has a child) how on earth have I managed to come back – “whole” – from that tragic loss? I gave myself a sense of purpose again. I gave my life a new meaning. And this allowed me to make meaning of my son’s (once senseless) death.
There were a few false starts. I floundered for a while. But my intention – to find a new purpose for my life – became my new “true north.”
My new purpose was to keep the conversations about death, mental illness, suicide, grief, loss – topics that are often taboo in “polite” company – out in the open. Closeting these conversations, enshrouding them with shame, was only going to result in more misery, and possibly in additional suicides of individuals who never felt safe revealing their internal struggles. I wanted more than anything to put an end to that.
So I told my story. I still tell my story. I write about it and podcast about it and I’m sure I bore people to tears, especially those who know me well and have heard me talk about this over and over and over.
But I am on a mission.
When I’m at a networking or social event, meeting people for the first time, and I’m asked (that oh-so-boring question), “And what do you do?” I respond, “I’m a grief recovery specialist,” and I get one of two responses: either people go, “Oh that’s nice,” and turn to start a conversation with someone else; or they begin to tell me their story of loss…which I welcome, and am honored to bear witness to.
There are many wounded souls walking amongst us, starving to tell their stories of loss, to be seen and heard in their suffering.
Today I have a reason to get up in the morning, to get out into the world, to connect with others. For a while there, that was not the case. You too can make meaning of your loss(es), and assign a new purpose for your own life after loss.
You begin by being willing. It is that simple. But I’ll be honest: it is not easy.
If you’re having trouble making this paradigm shift, perhaps we can work on it together. It would be my privilege. This is intimate work that requires vulnerability and honesty. Maybe it’s too soon for all that; but maybe, just maybe, it’s not.
Many people supported me as I “re-purposed” my life. My work today – grief counseling – is my way of paying it forward.
Comment below and tell us how you found your way again. Contact me if you want to continue this conversation privately at: email@example.com
Thank you for sharing your “pain transformed into a gift.” 🙏🏻
This transformation is not an easy thing to achieve, but it SO beats the alternative, which includes so much suffering. I get that some people just can’t get themselves there. We’re complicated beings; some of us have better access to that part of ourselves for all sorts of reasons. Some of us get exceptional support while we’re struggling. Some of us have spiritual/religious faith to get us over the hurdles. I don’t want anyone to feel bad for “failing” to achieve this – it’s HARD! But I want people to know that it’s possible, and to be gentle and compassionate and patient with themselves as they point their futures in a more positive direction.
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First off, you are definitely NOT boring! I spent my life being codependent and, of course, I still am, but happily not to the extent I once was. I had to work very hard on myself and I needed help. A wonderful therapist happened to move into a nearby community and with her help I addressed many of my demons that had kept me locked in the victim role and being a people pleaser. It’s not easy getting through loss, whatever form that may take. I am so grateful to have happened across your blog and have found it (You) to be a wonderful, empathetic, and compassionate person. It’s been said we are all wounded healers, but unlike many of us, you have turned that around to help others. Thank you!
Reblogged this on chopkins2x3 and commented:
Wonderful advice and help from somebody who has been there, and overcame adversities that would have knocked many of us out cold. Check out her blog.
I came to your blog via Carol’s re-blog and so glad I did. You are inspirational in allowing God to work in your life through grief. I was 24 years old when my first husband was tragically killed and I’m afraid I was a lost soul for many, many years. You have made yourself accessible for others as they struggle through grief. Thank you!
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