Last post, I wrote about how to break the habit of telling ourselves we “have to” or “should do” this or that. Thinking we need to do whatever we are telling ourselves is often an automatic reaction to believing we must meet a specific need. Urgently! But thinking and acting this way only puts excessive pressure on ourselves that keeps us in a state of frenzy. A cycle that can be hard to break free of.
There’s a difference between knowing real need from those needs we pressure ourselves into thinking must be met, right now! These latter often are tasks we may conclude aren’t so important when we stop to think about our priorities.
How often do you catch yourself saying I “have to” or “I should do” this or that? You may not even be aware of how much you repeat this to yourself each day. Yet, telling yourself “I have to” or “I should” can be perilous to your mental and physical health.
When we have an opportunity to fill our spare time (yes, I can hear you laughing), the decisions we make based on what we are telling ourselves, may not be in our best interest. This is particularly true when we are recovering from loss. Living with a disability. Or, when we are trying valiantly to meet our own high standards or the expectations of others. The stress can be enormous!
I’ve been dealing for years with this issue of people not knowing how to talk to me once they find out I’m a bereaved mom. Given it’s been over fifteen years now, it’s getting a bit monotonous. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. There are plenty of other bereaved parents who struggle with the same reactions I get once people find out I’ve lost a child. In fact, I’m certain many bereaved people routinely experience the discomfort of those with whom they have shared their loss, no matter who has died. People in general, just don’t know how to talk to the bereaved.
While it’s rare for me to talk about my daughter with just anyone, it isn’t because I don’t want to. It’s because I learned early in my bereavement that I had to take extreme care in choosing who to share my loss with simply because of the overwhelmingly reactions I got when people found out I’d lost a child. (Usually this was in response to them asking me how many children I had). All of them wanted to know how she had died, which only made their discomfort even worse because it was a suicide.
When I first became bereaved in 2005, after the suicide of my daughter, I felt confused and distrustful of everything. My entire world had fallen apart. I had no idea how I would ever live without my child and was terrified something else really bad would happen to my family. I couldn’t imagine what I could ever do again that would feel worthwhile. I felt isolated and different from everyone else and in pain so extreme, I didn’t think I could survive it. I felt powerless. There was no relief in sight.
But I did survive. More importantly, I’m starting to truly live again through a healing process I can’t wait to share with others.
Though I wish everyone reading this the absolute best for this new year, I’m not going to start this post off by saying how glad I am to say goodbye to 2020. In fact, and with the greatest respect and compassion for all those who have suffered hardship during 2020, I am grateful not to have been impacted negatively by the Pandemic. Nor was any of my family. We were spared.
Whew! I do not want to endure any further hardship in my life. In fact, I am so happy to say I am finally doing a darn good job turning things around in my life when it comes to healing and embracing positive change.
However, for those newly bereaved who have suffered loss of a loved one, economic hardship, unwanted lifestyle changes, a relationship breakup, family separation, or their hopes and dreams, all because of something way beyond their control, it’s a new year. You can have a new life by developing a new mind set. Change your thoughts. Change your life and all that. Or can you?
Like most people around the world who are celebrating a major holiday this month (for me it’s Christmas), we all could use a little hope. Nothing is the same for any of us this year. Maybe it won’t be ever again, as cliché as this sounds. Millions of people have been affected by the pandemic and reeling from the various losses and struggles they are experiencing as a direct result of it. It’s easy to lose hope and see only the bad in everything when we are hurting and afraid.
Now, I realize that suicide is not a topic most people openly want to talk about. But sometimes we have to. I guarantee that everyone knows someone who has died by suicide, if they haven’t experienced it in their own family or close circle. Suicide is a global crisis that every country admits to, but doesn’t know how to solve.
As a mom of a daughter who died by suicide in 2005, I was thrilled to recently learn that a 9-8-8 national suicide hotline number has been proposed for Canada. I remain hopeful the motion makes it before Parliament for a vote within weeks, and that it is approved and turned into law within the next two years. I agree with mental health professionals and advocates that the hotline will be a game-changer for Canada. It will transform the way we think and talk about suicide and improve support for those at risk who call in. I am certain it will save lives. People just have to call!
Will, when used to express our desire, freedom to choose and willingness is a gift. In grief, or when trying to overcome any adversity, it gives us a more positive outlook on life. On our relationships. On our potential and possibilities.
Having the will to take action is related to our being eager and ready for whatever we want to come our way. To change what we are no longer satisfied with in life. To feel alive and create new dreams when we’ve lost former ones or had none at all. To seize opportunities.
Possessing will is also associated with our needing to feel some amount of cheerfulness. Which may be the reason people struggle to have or maintain the will to push through their difficulties and latch on to something more than just their pain.
Wow, so I just read that the Netherlands is set to approve euthanasia for children under twelve years old. Again, just wow on so many levels. The first being that this is perhaps some of the most liberal thinking in the world on euthanasia next to that of Belgium, which became the first country to allow voluntary child euthanasia in 2014. Since then, they have reported two deaths of children in this age range.
Wow, because for a parent to have to consider never mind be willing to let their child go this way is perhaps the ultimate sacrifice any parent may ever have to make. And unless you’re in that situation, it’s hard to say what anyone would be prepared to do.
I’ve been away from blogging for a little while as I find myself going through a somewhat unexpected transformation. I say unexpected because most of my adult life I’ve thrown myself into learning and growth that has always produced positive change. I’m used to it. However, coming off my hardest challenge to date, which has been the suicide of my daughter in 2005, I can admit it’s taken a lot to drum up the energy to go after life with the zest I once had. I no longer always have the motivation or even the physical capability as a bereaved parent to keep up with the former me (which still surprises me, though it shouldn’t).
I’ve found it especially hard to have a reason to keep moving forward and try new things to create a better version of myself that everyone can benefit from. Including me. Which is true for all of us. It’s a win-win for everyone the more we can commit to learning and growing to improve the current version of ourselves.
Now, while all this may sound like a lot of navel gazing, it’s also true that we can’t be of any real value to others if we can’t first find value in ourselves. However, reaching the point where we want to tap into our worth and reclaim our inner power can be challenging, depending on the adversity we are trying to overcome. It can also be frustrating that what one person may succeed at beating in life, we may never.