You know that old saying, “what doesn’t kill you – makes you stronger?” I think when it comes to grief and really, any difficult challenge in life, that’s very true. Last night my husband and I were watching a new series on the History Channel called “The Selection.” Thirty civilians take it upon themselves to try to get through the rigorous training that military special operations go through (such as Navy Seals, Army Green Beret’s, etc.)…without quitting. There’s no prize money at the end either, other than the knowledge of knowing you just raised your personal bar in life and probably did a whole helluva lotta growing as a human being.
Every emotional/physical/mental pain is a “dip in the fire.”
I’m not trying to compare the monumental weight grief places on the heart with the perceived physical/mental pain of going through such a rigorous program; however, (having gone through just Army boot camp) something one of the instructors told a grown man who decided he had had enough and was quitting struck me. He explained that the process wasn’t to beat someone down and went on to explain how a sword is made. It’s dipped in the fire, taken out and pounded on and this is repeated many times until it’s formed and sharp. It was the perfect analogy to the premise of military training.
In boot camp, they beat you down, yell at you, make you feel small until slowly but surely, you realize all pain is temporary and this personal growth metamorphosis occurs. Only if you’re willing to stick it out long enough just to see how capable you really are. This brings to mind how different this country would/could be if everyone (who were physically capable) had to serve their country and go through such training. I simply cannot imagine – if everyone truly knew what they were capable of. It would raise the bar in the entire country ten-fold, I think. Anyway….just a side thought.
I just found that analogy so beautiful because it truly applies to all struggle in life. Every emotional pain, challenge, hardship, etc…is a dip in the fire or a pounding of a stone that’s shaping you.
The tragedy is, is that you simply can’t see that when you allow your mind to take you to the depths of pain and despair and you remain there.
What My Grief Taught Me
- It never goes away but it does get easier. That whole “time heals all wounds” is bullshit. You’ll wear it the rest of your life like a battle-scar. Things will trigger you and floodgates will open. Don’t run from it. Feel it and let it pass and know, without a doubt, you will be reminded again.
- The experience will change you. No denying that. But you do get to choose how.
- It will make you hard (and angry) for a while….maybe even for a decade or nearly two, as was my case. You’ll stuff it down. You will try your damnedest to forget. Eventually, something or maybe a multitude of things, will trigger you. If you’ve never dealt with the pain, it will get ugly for you for you a while. The important thing is – is to feel it for a time. Spend some time in your misery. You have to in order to let it go. I honestly don’t see any way around it. We are taught to run away from pain – to avoid it at all cost. Preoccupy ourselves, procrastinate, and live life on auto-pilot. Trust me, you’ll never feel free until you feel it in order to let it go.
- Letting go isn’t forgetting. It’s easy to feel “survivor’s guilt.” It’s easy to feel an enormous amount of pressure to make something of your life, depending on the circumstances of your loss. In order to give the loss meaning in your life – you have to let the negative feeling attached to it – go. Honestly, I did not reach this point until maybe just a few years ago. It’s a process you continually have to work on until you reach a point where you feel that the experience lead you to somewhere. For me, it’s been a book I am writing. For you, maybe it’s a new-found spirituality or some other form of giving back in some way.
- There is a silver-lining. Believe it or not, there is. I firmly believe, with my whole heart, there are lessons that can be gleaned from every struggle. As you work through all the stages of grief , you will discover those lessons (and the silver lining) – eventually. I would not be the person I am today, having not gone through grief at such a young age. That experience shaped and molded me into the adult I became. I have to be grateful for that or I would still be stuck in my life.
Every person who experiences grief (and we all do at some point in our lifetime) -experiences it differently and in their own time. I wanted to share these words – giving hope that grief doesn’t have to rob you of the rest of your life.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experince; we are spiritual beings having a human experience. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Every human experience, like a snowflake and each of us, is unique. However, the common threads weaved through every soul are the capacity to love, the need to be loved, and the gift of free will. How beautiful is that, when you really think about it?
You’re never alone. And likely, there’s someone to your right or to your left that needs you to pull through.
Are you in the trenches of grief as you read these words? Did you find this helpful? If so, I’d love to hear your story.
Know someone who is experiencing grief and think these words could be of service? Be loving and share it.
with love & gratitude,