Yes, you. You change the world. Being who you are. Sharing what you feel. Being honest about your experience.
Forging a way
Just the other day I shared an image of myself from 15 years ago. This was way before my date with grief and loss at its core. I had my share of relationship break-ups and had gone through the death of my grandparents. But in comparison to the death of my daughter, followed by the death of my mother, they paled.
Here is what I wrote:
“Seeing this photo from about 2003 got me thinking…
If I could, I would love to share a few things with that younger version of myself: I’d applaud her for her perseverance in settling into a new country, even though it was tough every step of the way and she felt alone. I’d tell her that the man she had just fallen in love would not return from his trip to Italy but that she would eventually marry a beautiful man, who she’d have children with.
I’ll let her know that she’ll someday have the honour to parent one daughter by her side and teach the world about how to mother her twin sister who had passed away. I’d tell her that she’d not only experience the loss of her daughter but soon after the loss of her mother. I’d remind her that even though it didn’t seem survivable, she would not only survive but would go on living and thriving with Hope. And she would go on teaching the world about how to move from living IN grief to living WITH grief within oneself.
I’d tell her that even though she didn’t see the whole road ahead, which eventually lead her back home, she was never alone.”
A friend of mine commented: “Though I hate that you’ve had to walk this journey, I thank you for forging the way for those of us who also found ourselves on a similar path.”
You ARE already changing the world
We are all on a similar path. You too have the power to forge the way for a better understanding of grief following the death of a child. Whenever you share something real and honest, without obligating people to listen, you sensitize those around you. Every conversation has the power to change people’s minds!
I remember a conversation with my father. I dare say he has strong opinions. He is probably less teachable than others. His generation strongly believed in the grief myths of hiding how you feel and needing to be strong. He recounted a conversation with a friend where she used the phrase “at least she’s got one daughter and she’s healthy”. She was referring to my surviving twin. (If you don’t know my story, you can find it here.) My father responded: “That is no consolation. Which one of your children could you live without, because at least you still had one and she was healthy?”
I was so proud of my father’s ability to speak up and correct his friend’s myth (loss is replaceable.) I was also reminded that what I had previously shared with him, explaining that platitudes like these don’t do any good for a grieving parent’s heart, found its way and taught someone else something new about grief and loss. It helped sensitize them.
‘Change the world’ can even happen through someone else’s conversation.
You are a warrior of light
So, I want to encourage you to share your story and your reality. In the beginning, it’s easier if you look for a receptive audience. Once you are clear about your grief story and practiced in sharing it, you’ll find the power of sensitizing, rather than obligating, people to understand you. And you will have changed the world. One listener at the time.
Change the world and know that you’re doing it.
Handlettered Quote by Nathalie Himmelrich
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Nathalie Himmelrich the author of a number of resource books for bereaved parents. As a relationship coach, grief recovery expert and bereaved mother herself she believes that relationships (intimate and to other support people) are the foundation for a healthy grieving experience. She is also the founder of the Grieving Parents Support (GPS) Network and the May We All Heal peer support group.