Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are. ~Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
In times of loss and grief, we often grow in what we consider unconventional ways if we allow ourselves the opportunity. Sometimes truth smacks us in the face and changes our reality. We are at a crossroads. We can stay right where we are, or we can move on. We can choose to embrace change, or we can choose to delve into a mire of anger, disbelief, regret, or guilt. It takes time and exploration to come to terms with grief.
We might even want to pretend a loss has not occurred. Denial is not that difficult if we’ve lost someone with whom we didn’t have daily connection. When the moment arises that we want to pick up the phone and share something with them, it hits. Then, we become angry. We blame the person if we feel in any way they could have avoided death, or we take it out on God. We question Him and yell at Him. And then we bargain and beg to not let it be true. We break down and tell Him what a devastation this is to us. We could possibly sink into a state of depression. We even sometimes get to the point that we feel nothing at all. We might even choose to escape reality by living within our memories.
But somehow throughout this process, peace can find us. Or do we find peace? I think it’s always there, waiting to be tapped deep within us. I suppose this peace comes with acceptance, knowing that we can’t change reality. I don’t think it means that we are completely healed of sadness or even bouts of anxiety. I think it means we’ve come to terms and are willing to go through the range of emotions that are necessary for the healing process to take place.
We need support of family and friends even though there are times we wish to withdraw from societal pressures. We learn both ways. Other people help us with perspective as we often focus only on ourselves. They help us see things we haven’t considered. Time alone helps us get to know ourselves and where we stand in the midst of grief. We have to choose to walk the journey. We must choose to see what is in front of us. No one else can do it for us. When we make that choice, we learn the fragility of life, sacredness of death, and the beauty of both.
In my family (or maybe it’s the South) death is ritual. It happens, sometimes “timely”, other times tragically. Community pulls together. We comfort through food, cards, calls, visits, and prayers. Above all we talk. Even if we are not open to what is really on one another’s mind, we are there in the physical sense. We memorialize our deceased. Though we miss them, continue to shed tears, and often recall memories. Eventually, we move on.
I don’t recall ever taking any lessons of death back into my life. Maybe it’s because I have never lost a close relation as my brother. Maybe it’s because his life has offered extraordinary lessons for us to discover and put into practice. Maybe, I’m at a point in my life that I am aware of circumstance around me. It might be as simple as the fact that I am not willing to let these lessons be wasted.
I am able to recognize my resistance to change. Growing, even emotionally, is exhausting and painful work. Being highly emotive, I often try to stifle my feelings. I become stressed, and I stunt my own emotional growth. I am in charge of my progress, no matter how painful (or pleasant) it might be. We are faced with opportunities for growth daily. We often fail to identify them. We even ignore obvious signs. Possibly, we might fear change or pain.
In deciding to examine my brother’s legacy, reflect upon my life mark, and apply these lessons as I see fit, I am choosing to expand my world. To do anything less, in my opinion, is not honoring his life or memory.