Sometimes I get scared to keep sharing my story, because there are people who see me continually speaking to death and pain, who perceive that to mean that I’m stuck in the grief, not moving on, not living joyfully, dwelling on the past. And it’s perceptions like that, that made me feel like a lecherous Grim Reaper Girl for years.
What these people don’t understand is that these 20+ tragic deaths & 4 years of inconceivable loss were my gift.
Yes, I said that 20 people dying in my life, losing my home, my job, my daughter’s best friend, a baby, many of our possessions, and a lot of faith and hope…was a gift.
Didn’t feel like it at the time, and it took a great deal to get to the point that I could say this, but, yes, I believe these experiences were my gift. Much like this woman said Brain Cancer was her gift in her heart-wrenching TEDX talk. Much like Teresa Peputo says speaking to the dead is her gift. Or, like a Brain Surgeon feels their love of cutting open brains is their gift.
We are all given gifts. My gift is that I don’t fear facing & embracing the ugly, awful, slimy, uncomfortable details of tragedy, hurt & loss. I’ve walked through it all myself. I’ve seen horrors most people can only imagine…like a beloved child hooked up to life support being prepared for organ donation, like Cancer eating away at a man who just 3 months before was perfectly healthy at age 39.
Because of this, I’ve gained compassion and empathy immeasurably – the kind I think a person can only have at this level if they’ve truly seen the depths of suffering in the world – if they’ve experienced great suffering themselves.
It’s not what I planned for my life, but it is what I’ve been given, and I am deeply grateful for it. I have experienced profound connection with others through our collective experiences of pain & fear. I experience deep compassion and empathy for total strangers, and I feel invisibly connected to everyone I meet now. That brings me joy…that stemmed from a whole heck of a lot of pain. That right there…is a gift.
So, I’m starting to realize, that maybe I do like being the Grim Reaper Girl. But, not so much in a victim identity – instead, in a “Highway to Heaven” sort of way. In a way in which I feel honored to speak to the dying, and those they leave behind – to speak to those who have suffered the loss of a job, a home, a dream, a loved one, a child, or a million and one of all of those things.
All I want now is to offer any ounce of compassion & understanding I can to those who are suffering. It’s my “Compassion Mission.” That is my life now. To give empathy & compassion to others.
I’ve come to realize, though, that it has much less to do with death and more to do with life. I have a mission now, to look into others’ hearts & see what is most alive for them. Sometimes that means drawing out a mix of suffering and solitude, tragedy and hope. Sometimes, it is unlocking pain that has been hidden and ignored so it can be transformed by the light of being heard and seen. Sometimes, it is standing witness to the vulnerability of joy and hope, encouraging a Mindful Mama to live her true purpose.
My hope is always to help you break open, so you can find the gifts in your experience. I want to stand here, a testament to the healing that comes on the other side of facing and embracing your pain, your fear, your anger, and anything else that is holding you back from living the joy-filled life you are meant to live.
One thing – ONE THING – unites us all in our experience as humans: the experience of PAIN. Some people don’t ever feel like they know love in their lives. But, we all experience pain.
So, when I write about my experiences, I am simply trying to unite us all – to give us a thread to string ourselves, one to another, through and to, from and around.
We don’t like to talk about pain. We don’t like to talk about death. We don’t like to talk about grief. These topics make us uncomfortable. But, they are the very experiences that make us the most human, and that bring us to the knees of our own lives, to find ourselves again through being broken open.