Learn how to Live
“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses. ” Colette
For over a week, I’ve had a hole in my heart that felt as though it would swallow me whole. I lost a very dear friend and mentor to cancer. Unfortunately, I’ve lost countless loved ones and once again, I find myself, between moments of deep sorrow, and the numbness that prevents the loss from feeling real.
Those that share the unfortunate pain of losing a loved one to a terminal illness understand the grieving that intertwines sadness with a sense of relief when your loved one is no longer in pain. The unforgiving nature of a long illness often causes our grieving to begin long before the life of our loved one ends.
Writing has always been therapeutic for me – it offers a feeling of peace and release that I haven’t found with anything else. As the illness progressed, my writing stopped. I couldn’t make or let myself write because all thoughts eventually led me back to the same place.
Looking back, it wasn’t the act of writing I was having difficulty with, it was the fact that I didn’t want to see my thoughts or fears on paper. I didn’t want what I was thinking and feeling to become real. When I put my words “out there”, meaning out of the privacy of my own thoughts, it’s as though I give them life. In this particular instance, giving them life meant accepting the reality of death and quite honestly, I just wasn’t ready.
I know that death is as natural as life. In reality, if we listen, death teaches us, or reminds us, how to live. I’m going to close this with a quote from Steve Jobs’ 2005 Commencement speech at Stanford University – it’s very close to my heart, and my beliefs.
“No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there, and yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.
And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you. But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it’s quite true. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
What do you truly want to become and what steps are you taking to get there?