After a loss such as ours, the hope is that everyone finds a way to express his or her emotions associated with this grief journey. I find my release via the written word and yet, at times, my words fall far short of describing what is in my heart.
Several months ago, I wrote a post about What Thriving Means to Me. In that post, I attempted to introduce my understanding of resiliency as I've experienced it. It was a topic I knew I wanted to write about, but I've struggled to articulate what was in my heart. I've had the below post in my Drafts folder for months. Today, I've put forth my best effort at finding the most accurate words to describe my experience with resiliency.
I hope these words find some connection with your heart as you consider any challenges or obstacles you currently or may face in the future.
Grit and resiliency: those are some heavy words!
When using those words in relation to my grief journey, I'm finding their literal definitions fall short of my experience.
According to Merriam Webster, the definitions of grit and resiliency are as follows:
- Grit—"unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger"
- Resiliency—"to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens"
Having lived through the loss of a child, I know grit and resiliency are required, but I'm learning to interpret those words with more depth than ever before.
A few months ago, I was talking with a friend about grit. She mentioned her child's school had a "grit" award. The kids are rewarded when they persevere through a difficult or frustrating moment, much like the days after Adeline passed away when I forced myself to get out of bed and eat. I pushed myself with a sheer force of will and determination. I remember having this acute awareness of how numb I felt during that time. I'm sure some it was shock from the situation, but I also think I'd been living in a "numb" state for some time before she arrived. I had always forced myself out of bed, forced myself to workout, forced myself to do what was expected of me. I was pushing myself through life.
Is there a correlation between being numb and grit? Should we always just push through, or can we look a little deeper into our souls and ask ourselves, "What is it I truly need right now?" In our society, we're encouraged to push through the pain. "No pain, no gain," or, as Dory from Finding Nemo would say, "Just keep swimming." We tell ourselves, and our children, that pushing through is what it means to be brave and courageous.
I absolutely believe there is a time and place for grit. Sometimes, indeed, you just gotta do what you gotta do.
The challenge, however, emerges when we live our lives in a numb state and just keep pushing, when we ignore the voice in our heads saying "STOP! REST! LISTEN!" Mindlessly, we ignore our own voice and, blindly, keep going...
What if I want more than what those definitions suggest? What if I didn't want to be healthy or successful "again" like it was before? What if I want something different?
What if I want to approach this healing process from a different perspective, one in which I'm able to honor my own needs and desires?
What if I want to allow for transformation rather than just "get back to normal"?
When I think of resiliency now, I think of transformational change. I consider how the experience of knowing Adeline has profoundly changed my life, how her impact on my life is helping me create a life I want to live. A life I LOVE!
When we lost Adeline, the extreme emotional ups and downs began. One minute I was doing ok, the next I was hiding in my bedroom sobbing. As I moved through those first few difficult months, I began to wonder, "How in the world is my heart going to withstand this never-ending emotional roller coaster?" I knew I couldn't withstand it through sheer willpower or grit. I need something more.
I knew if I intended to survive, I would have to change. I could not withstand the hurt and the pain without learning to do things differently. I needed to embrace her loss as an opportunity to redefine myself.
Since Adeline, when I'm greeted with a difficult or challenging situation, I've found Honoring Where You Are to be more helpful than pushing through. I allow the pain to reside and listen for what my heart needs in that particular moment.
This will forever be my new definition of resiliency:
- Allowing the pain and suffering of a difficult or challenging situation to transform one's heart and acting in accordance with the desires and needs of one's true-self.
This new definition leads me closer to who I want to be and, as a result, closer and more connected to the world around me. When we take the time to acknowledge our feelings and emotions, no matter how painful or difficult, we are honoring our souls and making magic happen right before our eyes.
Is there a situation that you are pushing through? What are you ignoring? Are you able to take a moment to reside with your inner-self, to listen to your voice, and to honor your soul's desires?
I'd love to hear how you're dealing with your struggles and how your experience might have changed by taking a moment to reflect before simply pushing through. Leave me a comment below, or send me a message.
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