When my husband suddenly died, I was on a mission to find a new community. One that I felt at home with. One that didn’t look at grief as a problem to be solved, a series of steps to be taken as a means to conquer it. I wanted a resonate connection. I wanted to feel and embrace grief and look at it as a gift. One filled with possibilities and experience. One that recognized the trauma but also provided light. I felt alone in my quest but strong in my resolve.
I remember a friend’s child asked, “Why does she seem so happy, mom?”
As hard as it was to loose Ryan, I knew I had a choice. I could sit at home in a dark house, blinds drawn, shutting the world out. I understood right away that I could choose how to view grief. I could shrivel up and die; I could view it as a problem, one that needed to be solved; or I could choose to live life to the fullest and share my gift with my community.
I went into hunting mode to find others who viewed grief in the way I choose. I craved answers. The University of Washington bookstore had many books on grief, some of which have revolutionized how our culture addresses death and dying. They focused on death as a problem to overcome. The conversation continued in a comfortable way, explaining how one deals with trauma. This new issue you are facing in your life is a problem and lucky for you, we have many books on how to solve it. I picked up book after book, read the insert and put them back.
Our culture is obsessed with problems and problem solving. Media, linguistics,and judgements are all based on problems. We are bombarded with messages about the problems in our community. The problem with our leaders, the problem with society, the problem with problems, death was a problem.
I grew frustrated, quickly. I searched for possibilities and gifts inside of books and groups that I could resonate with. Only a handful of books put grief as a gift into perspective. I wanted more. I wanted the majority of books to have that insight. I didn’t give up, reading as many books as I could get my hands on. I talked to as many widows as I could. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why we viewed grief so differently. And then tonight, I had an AHA moment.
I never viewed grief as a problem to be solved. It just was. It’s a deep human emotion, the loss of another. Yet in it is numbing beauty, a gift. One that may not be wrapped in pretty paper, tidal waves or digestible lumps. No, grief has to be felt – to it’s abundant depths, to its soul searching heights. And as you emerge from the abyss, transformation occurs.
We need a paradigm shift toward death. It’s the driving force behind my book and why I am writing Leaping Into Lovers Lane.
I never viewed Ryan’s death as an issue to be dealt with. I didn’t get angry. Even while rocked to my core and those dark, dark days, I knew light was a possibility. I accepted that I was experiencing this for a reason. A grand plan in the Universe. One that may not make sense at the time, and feel like a heavy toll to pay, but one that I accepted. One that I owned. One that I viewed as an amazing gift.
I view grief as a pathway to limitless possibilities. And I’ve found applying that mindset helps everything in life. It has brought joyous abundance, rich experiences and unconditional love. If I viewed grief as a problem, I’d still be sitting in a dark, grey house in Seattle counting raindrops.
If it were up to me, I would eliminate “problem” from the dictionary. Instead I would replace it with possibilities and gifts. Just think of a world without problems. One that instead focused on possibilities. One that was so full of light that our communities grew stronger. We supported and celebrated one another for our amazing talents and abilities.
This conversation starts with you, my community. Conversations gain momentum and then birth a new light. A new consciousness. A new way of thinking and a way to show up in the world.
Leadership starts in small groups. It moves slowly, gaining momentum and creating sustainable change. In you, in me, in everyone we surround ourselves with. I challenge you to eliminate the grief problem from your vocabulary. Use possibilities instead. Notice what shows up for you in the world. When you find yourself slipping into that old verbiage, stop and reframe.
Changing your perspective, one that you may not even be aware of, will shift things in your world. It shifted mine.