There is a kind of shattering that happens with the death of a child, particularly a violent one. Aside from a heart left in a million pieces, you lose a sense of who you are or what life is all about. The questions of “why” is the only one you want answers to and nothing else seems to matter.
What’s interesting is that once a life is crushed to that extent, the only thing left to do is rebuild, a sort of emotional reconstruction. This is where we must face our darkest emotions and allow them to flow freely without any resistance and face them fully even if they hurt more than anything we’ve ever experienced.
When I was in labour with Stefanie, my mother kept telling me to relax into the pain, to let my body do what it was meant to do – to stop resisting. But somehow it’s natural both physically and emotionally to brace against pain. Once all my resisting proved futile, I decided to take my mother’s advice. The pain was more intense – or at least seemed to be – but the labour progressed much quicker and she was born shortly thereafter.
Before we can reconstruct our lives to a “new normal”, we have to relax, face the darkness and not try to move too quickly or expect too much of ourselves. But surrendering fully eventually brings us to acceptance, and that’s what brings gifts of wisdom, courage and heightened compassion.
Grief is a teacher, albeit an unwanted one. But once its gifts have blessed our lives, we are then freer to feel joy and love. The question then becomes “how do I rebuild my life?” rather than “why did this happen to me?” (to which it seems there is no answer).
When we have gratitude and courage as our building partners, we have a good chance at reconstructing a healthy fulfilling life.