I bet you’re wondering if you read that title correctly knowing who’s writing it; a bereaved mother who lost her youngest son just a little less than a year ago. I have to admit, when I texted the simple words, “Life is Good”, to one of my best friends the other day, it stopped me in my tracks…I re-read it several times and thought to myself, did I really just say that? More importantly, how could I possibly mean that after everything our family has been through? And what I realized in that moment is that what I said couldn’t be more true. Honestly, I never thought I would think that way about life again. How could I after such unbearable loss? Life will never be the same without our sweet Connor but life goes on. We have to choose wisely what to do with the limited time we all have on this Earth.
My personal grief journey, our family grief journey is constantly evolving. There is no blueprint for how to go about grief but I would like to share some of the most important things I have learned on my journey. You have to face grief, you can never escape it because it is now part of who you are. As a dear friend told me, “you have to just sit with it sometimes” (it’s so scary and uncomfortable at first believe me) and let it be what it is. Before, my biggest fears in life were losing my children, being trapped in a coma, clowns (they are freakin’ terrifying) and I don’t care what anyone else says about that, spiders, and ice cream trucks. Yeah, that about sums it up for me. You know what my biggest fear after losing Connor was? SILENCE…It was the worst thing I could possibly imagine at that time other than losing him. All of the sudden, when Connor went to heaven, it was quiet; no oxygen machine, no monitors beeping, and worst of all, no sound of him breathing. I never truly realized how comforting the sound of his peaceful breathing was to me. It was like the sweetest lullaby.
At first, I did what I think a lot of people do after losing a loved one, I tried to keep myself busy, at least in my mind. It helped a little for a while but was so temporary; kind of like when you swear you “need” chocolate and it’s so good when you are eating it and then you get the sugar crash later. I tried a lot of different things; went to grief counseling, went to church, prayed, got on meds, opened up to close family and friends, ate junk food, stayed in bed, worked out, tried a few diets, got out of the house as much as possible, etc. I started to wonder if this unbearable pain and suffering I was experiencing was just the new normal. I had to do something different but I didn’t know what that was.
I started planning quiet times where I would just sit and listen to music, read, color, and eventually just be in the silence (my biggest fear) and do nothing else at all. I prayed daily that God would fill my heart with his love, light my path and show me the way. I was lost and so broken. This year, I decided I wanted to focus deeply on my spirituality. An opportunity came up to go to 6 weeks of beginner meditation classes nearby, every Sunday for 1 hr. I have two classes left and to put it simply, what I have learned has changed my life in the most beautiful ways and this is only the beginning. What I love about it is that it doesn’t matter at all what your religious beliefs or lack-thereof are. Everyone is welcome. I am a Christian and have no plans of converting to Buddhism but I think everyone can benefit from some of the core Buddhist principles, through meditation and by changing the fundamental the way we think. Perception and perspective change are powerful.
I realized that while my heart was overflowing with faith and love for God, it was lacking in deep spirituality. They are not the same. As my spirituality grows each week through practice, I feel as though my heart and soul are more in line; becoming a beautifully broken, well-balanced garden filled with the most colorful flowers you can imagine. It is thriving in a way I never thought possible after such loss. I find myself striving for my life to be much more simple, less cluttered. My daily prayer has changed to gratitude first (being thankful for all the blessings I have and have had), then asking God to place only the things in my path that are “right for me”, removing from my path all things that are distracting. We can’t feasibly say “yes” to everything and do well at everything at the same time. I have shifted to living an “intentional” life, only saying yes to what my heart says is right for me. You have to find what works for you. For me right now, it’s spending time with family and friends, faith, meditation, spending time outdoors, music, photography, writing, reading, working, and adventuring. Slowing down…learning to enjoy and embrace the quiet times.
In the short time I have been practicing this new way of living and thinking, my faith is stronger than ever, my spiritual self is more fulfilled, my personal relationships are much stronger, and I have been blessed beyond measure. Our family has some fun little trips planned for this year that we are looking forward to, I am working part time and absolutely loving it, going to some amazing concerts this year (Toby Mac in 24 days, yes I’m counting :), having a great time hanging out with friends, taking time to read great books, volunteering for the Tim Tebow Night to Shine in Boise next week, going to church tomorrow, and a meditation retreat later this month. LIFE IS GOOD! The truth is that grief never goes away. We learn to live with it in our own way. If you are grieving, hurting, lost, I see you. You are loved. You are enough. Most importantly, God sees you and will never leave you. Let God be the lighthouse in your storm. No one we love is ever truly lost. I know we will see Connor again and he would want us to keep adventuring until that time comes. Connor’s love and light always remain…
Sincerely and with Love,
Here are a few of my favorite songs. The first one has helped me all throughout my grief journey and the second one expresses how I feel now. I do not own the rights to this music.