“Love is a mighty force, capable of raising us to the very pinnacle of being and into its darkest abyss.”—Andrew Anthony
I’m flying home from Virginia Beach this afternoon. I just gave a workshop on my book, Living Big, at Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment.
It’s a truly magical place. The sand on the beach contains healing crystals and every fourth person, it seems, is either a psychic or a medium. It’s the perfect destination for a mom whose current passion is keeping her own spirit alive along with the spirit of her daughter.
The elephant-in-the-room question came up during the workshop. How do you cope with the massive rip in your understanding of the universe? I’m the writer, after all, who regularly blogged about being the luckiest person on the planet.
I’m not sure I gave a very good answer. Losing your only child is brutal terrain. But I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
And I’ve concluded that I use many of the techniques I write about in my books and on this blog.
1. I use the two magic words. It’s okay. It’s okay to be tormented with overwhelming emotions, to wonder what she’d be doing if she were still alive. It’s okay to sob uncontrollably, to stay in bed after the sun rises. It’s okay to question whether life is still worth living. It’s okay to feel any emotion that happens to show its face.
2. I practice gratitude. I mean, I got to spend 25 years with this incredible being of light and love. I was a 37-year-old singleton with no real prospects in sight when she chose to hang out with me. Literally, she was a life-changing gift–the most amazing, the most compassionate, the wisest person I ever met. I also appreciate the fact I never had to struggle with issues many parents face: drug addiction, mental illness, etc. Taz was brilliant. She was kind. She was perfect.
Another upside of navigating the chasm in my life is that it puts life’s petty annoyances into perspective.
3. I choose thoughts that make me feel better. Thoughts that don’t feel good, thoughts that suck the big one go like this:
This isn’t fair.
I’ll never be a grandparent.
She won’t get to experience so many important life events (weddings, kids)
Believe me, those thoughts vie for my attention.
But, as I preach in my books and workshops, I get to choose which thoughts to animate into my life. And I’ve learned from personal experience that I am much happier and more hopeful when I focus on enduring connection, on life being bigger than this little flesh suit, on the idea that she’s still right here, as present as she ever was.
When I look through my 38 photo albums (yes, I was a proud momma), it’s easy to recognize life’s changing physicality. Even before she had the aneurysm, it was obvious Taz was no longer the darling five-year-old starting kindergarten with her flowered dress and her pink backpack. She was no longer the seven-year-old in the Bahamas with the parrot on her shoulder. She was no longer the 21-year-old standing among the ruins of Machu Pichu.
Now, instead of a body frozen into one reality, Taz is unfettered and free, joyfully dancing throughout the cosmos.
And there’s no reason (except my stubbornnes) that she and I can’t continue to communicate. The other day, I got an intuitive hit to run my car radio’s scan function. I use it when I’m traveling, but I was driving the familiar streets of my hometown. I know the local stations. I chose my favorites long ago. Why would I run a scan?
The first hit was a twangy country and western melody. Then I got some preacher railing about abortion or something. And then I got a “station” clearly broadcasting a familiar voice. There was no mistaking Taz uttering two words that always made my heart sing, “Hi mom!” It so floored me that my frantic efforts to stop the scan were in vain.
Call me delusional, appoint me mayor of crazy town (as my friend, Anita Moorjani says, Whenever someone suggests such a thing, she almost falls off her unicorn), but I choose to believe these happier thoughts. And I am remain grateful for all beautiful reminders that life is bigger and grander and more wildly miraculous than I will ever understand.
Pam Grout is the author of 19 books including E-Squared, E-Cubed, Thank & Grow Rich and her latest book, Art & Soul,Reloaded: A Year-Long Apprenticeship to Summon the Muses and Ignite Your Daring, Audacious, Creative Side.