Sunday, October 18, 2015
Defining My Life
Author Anna Quindlen stated, “Our lives are defined by those we have lost.” I definitely agree with this statement. I can see that my life would have gone in another direction completely had my daughter lived. Her death has led me to do things I would never have dreamed I could do. Good things, as it has turned out.
For one, I am now a published author. I have learned a lot about surviving grief in the last 21 years and putting a lot of it down on paper in my two books. I vow to help others by what I say on those pages and expose my heart to everyone. It turns out to be a good feeling. “And I smile, hearing my daughter say to me, “Mom, when are you going to write the great American novel?” Little did I ever dream my books would be about her, me and many, many other bereaved parents surviving the worst possible thing that can happen to us.
In another time and place, I couldn’t have gotten up in front of a group of bereaved parents and talked about my child and my very personal feelings when she died and afterwards. I now speak to groups, both nationally and locally about creating a new normal after the death of a child, how everything is different, how my goals and priorities have changed, and how what used to be important no longer has any meaning. I know what has to be done, and I choose to do it through speaking.
I have become a more compassionate person and try to help those who need guidance in moving on with their lives. I listen to the bereaved. They want to tell their story. I understand that, and I try to be a good listener so that, when I am asked a question, I have an answer for them. It may not be what they want to hear at the moment, but I always ask in the end what I can do to help.
I agree with author Marilyn Heavilin, who says that she has chosen to make every day count because she-and I-realize life comes with no guarantees. So we live for ourselves and our children. We may decide to do what we know would have made them happy and what would make them proud of us, even though the pain of losing them burns a continuing searing hole in our hearts and always will. We honor our children by making the most of our lives, and we will always remember them.