Seven years ago, my life was forever changed. My husband and I suffered the loss of our second daughter due to an unexplained, premature delivery. Healing has allowed many of the details of that day and the weeks that followed to fade. But there is one moment that resurfaced in my thoughts today.
It was the first time I drove alone after that particular loss. I found myself sitting in the car outside our home. For a brief moment, I couldn't remember if I was just leaving or returning. I soon realized that I had in fact driven home from an appointment, but had been completely unaware of anything I saw or did along the way.
When we've been hardest hit by life's most challenging moments, we stop paying attention to the world around us. Our eyes are open, but we are blinded by the pain. We can only see what allows us to get from one moment to the next. Time stretches endlessly, but it's as though we're watching life pass by as opposed to experiencing it. Even the faces of those who remain present to us become somewhat unrecognizable.
So how do you get from a place of great struggle to one of peace and balance in your life?
Know You Are Not Alone
First, I realized that I couldn't do it alone and I didn't have to. I had to be willing to ask for and accept help in it's various forms, human and divine. There were times I didn't know what to ask for, even in prayer. Most often I would write in my journal and other times I just sat there in silence, trusting that somehow my greatest needs would be met. Being in the company of others who understood and were not-so-quick to give advice was also helpful.
Reconnect With Your Body
I remember having this odd sensation that I wasn't in my body because it was too painful to let myself feel. Going outside and being in nature helped me to feel grounded and more in touch with my surroundings. I would stop to pick up rocks and touch the bark of a tree. This greatly reduced the pain and the sensation of numbness, allowing me to truly feel once again.
Search the Clouds for Rainbows
I had to learn to look up. Rarely do we see a rainbow if we're looking down. We have to actively pay attention to see the messages of hope. If we're not looking upward, we could easily miss the unexpected blessings that are sent our way. My daughter was just three when she helped me to see that rainbows come in different colors-- it's even possible to see "a chocolate rainbow."
Be Gentle With Yourself
Healing takes time. There is no button we can press to be transposed to a time when it doesn't hurt as much. Recognize that time alone does not heal. We have to make the decision every day to live and move forward in the way that feels right for us. Don't judge yourself harshly.
There is a quote by Maya Angelou that reads, "When you learn, teach, when you get, give." Also, the words by Anne Frank, "No one has ever become poor by giving" reminds us to share whatever we've learned in a manner that provides hope and guidance to another.
If you are not yet able to use your experiences to help at least one other person, then find another way to give or brighten someone's day. Start with the person closest to you. Leave a note of appreciation where your husband/wife/partner is sure to find it. Offer a genuine compliment to a grocery store clerk. Bring flowers or vegetables from your garden to a neighbor or see if your child would like to paint a picture to bring to a friend/neighbor who lives alone.
Don't Let Life Pass You By
Don't let life pass you by even when it hurts. Pay attention to the messages of hope and peace. Remember that every day holds the possibility for something better.
Love and blessings to you,
Kathleen O'Malley, DC is passionate about transforming lives. She is the author of Messages from Children and What They Can Teach Grown-ups (Balboa Press, 2013) and Messages from Within (Balboa Press 2012) Available on Amazon.com.,Barnes and Nobles.com, Balboa Press.com, Peggy's Place in Grafton and O'Malley Health and Wellness Center, North Grafton.