Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.
Losing a loved one is a type of heartbreak that can only be known by those who’ve experienced loss themselves. It feels like a hole in your heart that can never be filled again, and you’re reminded of its gaping void at all hours of the day and night.
You can feel as if you now exist as half of a human, or for some, less than half; maybe just a fraction of themselves. You’re unable to function fully because you feel as if you, too, could die, and that’s all you can muster.
But there’s something very valuable that comes from grief, and it’s hard to recognize it when you’re in the grips of tremendous anguish and sorrow. Still, when you’re ready to experience it, a deep healing and transformation can come from the loss of a loved one.
When I lost my beloved sister, Esther, last year, my heart felt as if it had shattered into a million pieces. The sadness I felt was more than I could bear at times. I’d experienced loss before with both my father and brother, Daniel, but this felt different, and I wasn’t sure why.
What I realized when I allowed myself to go deeper into my pain, as opposed to trying to quicken the grieving process so that I could be more present for my family and work, was that my sister’s death had given me much to learn from. It caused a type of healing for me that included wisdom and compassion, of which I hadn’t understood in quite the same powerful way until she was gone.
Death and grief can be your greatest teachers if you allow it, but you must keep your heart open and available, even when it feels it can’t endure one more thing being asked of it. But your heart needn’t do anything other than feel your pain and heartache. If you surrender to it as if it were a gift left by a loved one, as opposed to feeling that they caused you suffering in their leaving, then you can let them help you heal. By being unafraid to go deeper into your own heart and discovering even more of who you are, you come away with a greater understanding of life and how it can be best lived – even without your loved one who has courageously traveled to the “great beyond” before you.
You have a wonderful opportunity to learn from death, and to realize that it can help transform you to be a better and wiser person because of it. And, you must believe that your deceased loved ones would not only want you to heal your heart from their passing, but also rise from your suffering like a phoenix rises from the ashes, and soar higher than you ever have before.
Your loved one would want nothing more than for you to live your life as fully as you possibly can, and to know that this life is meant for you to realize who you are and to discover your greatest purpose. Their death can help shine a light on what you are meant to do, and give you a greater strength and belief in yourself to go after what you want.
My sister Esther’s death has gifted me in ways that have helped me feel stronger and less afraid to face things that make me grow and evolve as a human being. She has taught me to be more brave and fearless like she was, and to face each day with even more appreciation and gratitude. Since her death, I’ve asked myself many times, “What would she want for me?” She’d want me to live my life as authentically as I possibly could, and to follow what stirs in my heart and soul. She’d also want me to live my dream, and she’s helped me do that. She has become my greatest inspiration, along with my husband and my two magnificent boys.
Because of her death, I choose to live each day to its fullest, and when I do something I’m proud of, I know that she’d be even more proud of me.
Our loved ones are watching over us. They’re guiding us like the North Star in the heavens. They want us to continue on without them, even though they never left us. They’re in our hearts, and it’s there they’ll always stay.
Ora Nadrich is founder and president of the Institute for Transformational Thinking and author of Live True: A Mindfulness Guide to Authenticity. A certified life coach and mindfulness teacher, she specializes in transformational thinking, self-discovery, and mentoring new coaches as they develop their careers. Contact her at theiftt.org and OraNadrich.com.