“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.” –Joseph Campbell
Whether your dream was the picket fence and 2 kids with the mini van and the handsome husband or the urban dream of living in Manhattan with your lawyer wife or even living off the land after marrying a cowboy–this was never part of your dream.
Husbands and wives are supposed to raise children and grow old together until old age silently steals one away from the other. This reality is far from that dream. It isn’t what you planned, but it doesn’t have to mean a life wasted.
This life is different, and probably harder than you had ever imagined a life could be. This life might be more of a challenge than you feel you can handle. Humans are resilient–able to meet intense challenges through dedication and hard work. Using their experiences, especially the difficult ones, to come back better, stronger, and more amazing than they knew possible.
This is where you are now: You can hold on to the life you had planned–the perfect life. Or, perhaps, you can accept that life is different, and allow yourself to see the new life that is waiting just beyond the fog.
“God never intended you to go through something and get nothing out of it. He intended that every time you go through a test, for you to come out of it with something else on your boat that you never had before, so that when you run into your next test, you will say, ‘If God did that…'” –T.D. Jakes
Every moment, good and bad, are meant to give us some tools–tools we didn’t have before. You might not learn these tools on purpose. You might not seek out these tools. Or you might do both of those things. Either way, you will learn. You might learn compassion or strength. It might increase your faith, break it, or both, respectively and then bring you back once more. You might gain wisdom and see the world in the different light. Even if you learn nothing else other than you can make it through something you once thought impossible– you have learned something impressive.
Now, like T.D. said, if God can help you though this–if he can bring you out the other side of this–imagine what else He can do. If you can get through this, alive and happy once again–imagine what else YOU can do.
“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.”
When something terrible happens, we want to know why. That question occupies your days and your nights. It’s hard to have a thought without that question taking over.
It’s hard to understand why things happen. Why bad things happen to good people and why good things happen to seemingly bad people. It is a question that is beyond the scope of our understanding. Life is a series of event and memories– many storms and celebrations. One event does not, tell the whole picture. One event could never tell the whole story.
The fact is, some things will never make sense. Chances are, you will never understand why this happened. Instead, focus on doing the best you can with this particular storm. As devastating as this is, these single events are meant to shape our lives. This event might be the event that confirms your beliefs, ignites your passion, or solidifies your strength.
Losing your loved one is not the total of who you are; losing your loved one is not your legacy. It is another piece in the puzzle of life. Let it plant something on your soul.
“Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.” — Bern Williams
Life can’t be lived in reverse; we can’t change history. All we can do is the best we know how with what we have been handed. It may feel like you are completely broken and you don’t know how to fix it. Though you may feel broken, you are not. You are wounded, so deeply wounded–the wounds will heal.
This is a process, a journey. Give yourself time to go through the process fully. Life will never be the same, but it will get better. One day, when you look back at the day your life was shattered, you will see how far you have come. There will come a day when life will be good again.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” –Anais Nin
I think we all want to crawl into a little ball when tragedy strikes our heart; sometimes our desire outweighs our courage–at least in the beginning. Facing life after your course is suddenly, unwillingly changed is difficult. Shrinking into the smallest space we can exist somehow becomes easy.
What isn’t easy, is finding out way back to the surface. Taking steps, moving forward, being willing to face life is a challenge, maybe the most challenging task yet. Get ready, because living life again, to its fullest is even more challenging.
Perhaps life once held you hostage in a box, when courage couldn’t be found–no more. Stand tall and walk with courage. If you do, you will feel fresh air in your lungs, sun on your face and a drive to move forward.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. –Ambrose Redmoon
There will be few times more terrifying than this. Sometimes the fear is intense and sometimes it dies down to a low rumble, but it rarely leaves. Courage is there too, waiting for you to call it by name.
Like everything, this too has a designated time: when you say so. One day you will wake up and realize that no one lives in fear. You will call on courage and it will rise up, carrying you with it. The world doesn’t stop being scary–no, not at all–instead, know when you sit on the shoulders of courage, fear can never pull you down. You have made the choice to do what you should do, what you want to do, what you feel is right to do, knowing that life isn’t always sunshine. No matter what life is, courage will carry you through.
And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
–Anais Nin American Author
Not many would equate healing as a widow with beginning to blossom and I certainly don’t think this quote was written with that in mind. I can’t think of a better way to describe what happens. It doesn’t happen immediately. There is no exactly timeline that it follows. The only thing that is for sure is you will know it when you feel it.
This healing is hard and it hurts every day. It hurts so bad that it leaves us in a sort of frozen state: can’t move forward and life won’t let us go backward. As we heal, we change and develop until the point comes when you cannot grow anymore without leaving that frozen state.
Stepping out into the world again is terribly scary. The world was scary enough with a partner. You have lost the partner and life has shown you exactly how ruthless it is, so moving forward with life isn’t all that appealing–for now.
The day will come, when it will be too painful to remain inside this box and you will take the risk–when you need to take the risk. When you do, it might feel awkward and confusing, but if you keep moving you will feel the sun on your face again. Don’t be afraid to step into the light and blossom; the most beautiful things come after darkness.
Expect problems and eat them for breakfast. –Alfred A. Montapert
Today will be hard. It will be hard if it happened yesterday. It will be almost just as bad if it was five years ago. It gets better, but holidays will always feel different from this point on.
If it happened recently, the wound hasn’t healed. It is swollen, red, and painful. If it happened years or a decade ago, chances are your wounds have healed; those wounds, even when healed properly, leave scars. Where ever you are, it is okay just to be there.
Don’t feel pressured to be someone you aren’t today. Don’t feel pressure to be who you were before this life altering event. I urge you to find some company because it helps. If you don’t want to stay long, don’t. If you feel like you would like to talk, but sitting at the table for a formal dinner is too much, skip dinner and go for the conversation. If the normal routine was to sing songs or play games after dinner, hit them up for some good food and then head on home–content with your progress. Everyone will understand. If someone doesn’t understand, forgive them and then forget it–they truly just don’t know.
Whatever happens, wake up and know today will not be as it once was. It won’t be the same tradition and happiness you have felt in years past. Wake up and know today might suck, and then do today anyway. Do it your way, but do it. And when it’s over, know that you won.
“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” –Unknown Author
People will ask you, for years to come, “How did you get through that?”
You will tell them you didn’t have a choice, you just did it.
They will follow it up with, “I don’t know if I could have done it.”
You will tell them that they could have because in life, you just do what you have to do.
It really is exactly it. Life doesn’t ask if you are ready. It doesn’t knock gently and wait for you to answer the door. Life barges in, knocks you down, and raids your fridge. And just like any intruder, you would be mad, sad, feel out of control and then you would dig deep, find your strength and pick up the pieces
People may not understand how to help you or how you manage to get up every morning–and that is okay. The important part is you do.
**one more thing to note: you will have days when you fall apart and you can’t find the strength to get out of the house, or even out of bed. That’s okay–it happens. Take that time to reflect and muster your strength for the next day.
This nightmare broke you. You are in pieces, a portion of your soul has disappeared. It has left you on your knees searching for answers. The answer is simple, the journey is hard. The answer is you live, you work towards your once shared dream, and most of all, you do not give up. The journey means you must rise up and take a step. Don’t give up on your dreams–your future–because part of you has gone. That is even more reason to keep moving, keep living, and keep growing. So whether it is hard, slow moving, or yes, even if it’s painful, we have to keep growing.