Recently during a conversation, a bereaved mother commented that in losing her child, she had found herself. She had found the “real” her and she was proud. These words spoke loudly to me, stirring up my soul, delving me into a time of self-reflection and introspect.
It made me think, maybe we don’t really know who we are until tragedy comes, until we are face to face with our worst nightmare. Maybe we are just going through the motions of life, living for the wrong reasons, not understanding our true calling and capabilities.
So, who was the real me? In retrospect, her words rang true to my heart. I also wasn’t the real me before my daughter died, although at the time I believed I was. It was all I knew. Looking back, before she died, I was a fragment of who I am now.
When our children depart, as time passes, we often reflect on the life we had been living before our loss, desperate for do-overs. For me, I recognized how shallow my life had been, not realizing the value of those precious moments at the time.
Grief changes us. Child loss transforms us. It magnifies all of our deepest emotions, thoughts, fears and desires, bringing them to the forefront of our lives. We didn’t know excruciating pain like this was possible, nor were we aware of our enormous capacity to love.
Such profound grief is immensely powerful. It reveals parts of us we didn’t know existed, yet were faintly familiar to us. As grieving parents, we will never return to the people we once were and that’s okay. Bravely, we somehow manage to continue living in the painful present, while simultaneously, our eyes open to everything we never saw before, and we become enriched with perspective.
After enduring such heart-break we are plunged to the depths of our soul, effortlessly evolving. We become more compassionate, empathetic, honest and real. We won’t settle for living a life less than the one that is authentic and meaningful. We become purpose driven and learn to live without fear as we bear the unspeakable pain daily while yearning to make our children in heaven proud. We are full of wisdom and unknowingly become pillars of strength for others.
I encourage you, as you embark and grow on this life-changing journey of grief and self-discovery, to embrace the path before you while loving, honoring and staying true to the “real” you.