Growing Pains

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.

28 thoughts on “Growing Pains

  1. “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.”

    You’re absolutely right, Suzi. Healing is a process; involving a wide variety of emotions. And it takes time. Like you shared, it’s a journey.

    I know for me, it took years to come to peace with the death of my biological mother. Ironically, it was through the passing of my father, did I begin my own healing process. I’ve learned so much from death.

    “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.”

    You GO, girl!

    Once again, I thank you for sharing your journey through your posts, my friend.

    ((((( Suzi )))))

    X

  2. To be reflective and take inventory of ourselves to redefine who we are as a result of positive or unfortunate events is wise as you indicate. If not we stay immobilized in fear, grief and anger. It has taken me 62 years to be who I am and it is a result of an accumulation of experience. I am weathered and comfortable despite some regrets.

  3. I feel very much as you do. I am glad we are choosing what seems to be the emotionally healthy path as opposed to the one others seem to be choosing.

  4. Very well said, SuziCate. I still deal with the grief of the deaths of loved ones and relationships that seem to have been endless over the last several years. Your words make a lot of sense, and I thank you for sharing them.

  5. I think one important aspect is to let the grieving take as long as it takes. We do grieve when we lose a loved one. And we begin to feel like “will I ever get over this?”. Every time we lose someone we love, there is a space that the person used to fill in our hearts. We do “get over it”, but only when the heart has had time to heal and time has given us perspective.

  6. You mentioned picking up the phone. This brought memories back to me. I went through that automatic operation many times after the loss of my mother. Replacing the receiver on the hook was painful each time. My heart goes out to you. Blessings, Suzi…

  7. Pingback: Growing Pains (via The Water Witch’s Daughter) | Change is Never Ending

  8. You are so right…we far too often fail to recognize or simply ignore opportunities for growth and change because of how difficult or painful we expect that growth to be. Luckily in life there are so many opportunities..glad to hear that you are comforted by choosing to embark upon this one.

  9. Beautiful post, Suzi. Especially enjoyed:

    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.

    We alone must walk the path . . . no one else can.

    When we learn to accept the “What Is” (even if we don’t like it), we are transformed in ways that make our life stronger.

    We become who we were always intended to be.

    I see you metamorphesis . . . right here before my eyes. You go, girl!

    • Thank you. I know that any changes I want to make in me have to be done by me, same as learning long ago that I must depend on myself to make me happy rather than putting that kind of pressure on someone else. It’s a learning process indeed. Sometimes, there are lessons I must do over and over, but that’s ok. Awe…I love the tranformation from caterpillar to butterfly…hope I don’t do things in reverse!

  10. Once again, I’m sorry you and Peg are going through this. I truly felt your words and they gave me alot to think about with dealing with the death of my sister in law, her death is still very painful throughout my family. Some have dealt with their pain, others are wallowing in it and others have shut down from it. Strange how we all deal in our own different ways.

    • I understand, Heather. People in my family are grieving differently, some on the path to healing, some not. I guess we each need to do things our own way. I hopw you find peace with the death of your SIL.

  11. Time does heal all wounds, but only if we let it. The loss of any loved one is especially difficult. At some point I think we all need to ask ourselves whether they would want us to live life fully from now on out, or remain in misery at their passing on to the next world. For some, there’s always the promise of being reunited. For others, I can understand why it’s too painful to let go and move on.

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