Why is it, do you suppose that the sweetest rewards visit us on the other side of hardship? This is something that I have observed both personally and with friends, family and clients. There seems to be a theme developing, and that theme is right next door to “no pain, no gain,” which is something to which I have never adhered. Don’t get me wrong. It is not that I believe that everything in life should be easy. It is just that there is a pattern that leads so many people to wonderful things after the experience of tragedy.
It makes one contemplate questions such as: Is this the Universe balancing everything out? Is this our subconscious minds leading us to something better in the wake of something awful? Does this mean that if something wonderful happens we can also expect devastation?
For myself I find that there is a fine line between contemplating the big questions in life and simply gazing at our own navels. When we are contemplating, we are searching for meaning and when we are just gazing at our navels, we don’t always know that we are doing it. So, as I write this, I am going to do my best to not just gaze at my navel and bore you to tears. But if you find that it starts to lean that way, feel free to just keep skimming over the “unimportant to you” stuff and get to the “more important to you” stuff.
Loss is something to which everyone can relate. We have all lost something or someone in our lives at one time or another. The result of that loss will be expressed in a variety of ways, depending upon the individual, and will have results that also vary according to the individual. How things unfold can be completely unpredictable and, therefore, so can the results. So it is important that we not judge one person’s process or compare it to another person’s process. When it comes to loss, people often think that there are only five stages of grief and that they go in a particular order and along a particular time frame. All of that is nonsense. It is never that simple. Each person moves through it in whatever way they are ready and not a minute sooner and not according to any outline of expectations.
For example, when my late wife died suddenly, I was, understandably, grief stricken. But I was also in a state of shock because of the suddenness of that death. Yes, her health was not great, but that was not definitively what ultimately caused her death. A major factor that helped it along was a slip and fall at a workplace. So even though we got her to a hospital, and she was discharged the same day, she still woke up dead the next morning. For anyone who has not experienced waking up beside a deceased loved one, let me tell you that there is no form of shock that is comparable.
On top of that shock came the endless issues of death business. Taking care of funeral arrangements, sorting out the estate and the banking issues, sorting out insurance claims (which took over two years), and managing a family that was melodramatic in their grief were stressors that simply kept me spinning for a very long time. The constant criticism from said family about how I was grieving or not grieving to their satisfaction and the demands for money and items that belonged to my wife led to my divorcing the entire family and moving on. It was heartbreaking to be treated like someone who divorced someone as opposed to someone who just lost a spouse to death. I knew that they only way to get through it was to end the circus act that was bombarding me. So I did just that.
Now, understand that when this Shaman burns a bridge, I don’t just douse it in gasoline and light a match. I blow it up completely and watch the shrapnel land everywhere on the ground in flaming pieces. And then I walk away, completely free of the entire thing. So even though these folks live in the same community as do I, I have never run into any of them since. That is something that has brought me deep peace.
So, on the other side of the tragedy of losing my wife, there did come a state of deep peace. But that is not where the story ended. I did, of course, go through that experience of learning to live without my beloved in my life, claiming our house as my house, figuring out who I was when I was not married and not yet feeling “single,” and knowing that I was in no way going to just have my life come to a grinding halt because I was mourning a loss. I was still young and vibrant, just set back a bit. That did not in any way mean that I did not love my late wife well enough. It simply meant that I also loved myself well enough to know that life would go on…eventually. I had not lost both my parents and two of my sisters previous to this event and not learned a thing or two about life going on after death.
And then I found myself once again falling in love, or should I say diving into love headfirst. Looking back on the entire process, I find that where I was back then is so incredibly different from where I am now that it truly makes me shake my head in wonder. It truly is amazing how, after such a hardship, I have reaped such rewards in my life. For this, I am truly grateful.
I think that this is also why I looked at the pandemic as a temporary glitch and still do. No, we will not “go back to normal” because there is no way to do that in all reality. What will happen, though, is that we will find a new “normal” of some kind that will feel reasonable to us. And eventually we will once again thrive. In the meantime we also have to see some of the benefits of the pandemic and how it has affected our lives. For myself, it is a state of inner peace that comes from isolation. It is also a recognition of just how important family and friends really are in my life. New appreciations bring deeper connections, even if those connections have to temporarily be in video chats. I don’t feel a need to shake my fist at the Universe, the world, or the government in order to create change when the changes are already underway. That is not to say that I disqualify others’ efforts on that front. I just do not personally feel a need for it. When the world is already changing, why do we have to force change? I do support those who feel driven, but I don’t have to do that by participating in it in their fashion.
While that change is underway, I am simply preparing myself for eventually being able to see clients in person, eventually being able to travel more freely and see friends and family who live far away, and maybe even dine in a restaurant if the mood strikes me. I already know that I can walk through the hardships of life. And now I have learned that after such hardships there can be amazing rewards. It is a matter of allowing myself to just relax into it and let the flow of life simply be.