To Survive Or Thrive
Updated: Apr 21, 2021
I have begun to embrace the things the old Zena enjoyed or incorporated in my life since my husband passed. Meditation, reiki, massages, angel card readings, going for long walks or hikes, hitting the gym three or more days a week and attending dance classes. The old Zena felt grounded and exhilarated when I participated in these activities. After my husband passed, the interests that once brought me joy were too hard to do. Unbearable, to be honest. I would walk into the gym and start riding the bike or use the fitness equipment, and I would burst into tears. Then run out the gym doors. I remember going to a yoga class and bawled the entire time - not too soothing for those around me. And sometimes, I would get frustrated that the things I had enjoyed before his death now only remind me of him and my new life without him. The things that brought me joy now only brought me deep sorrow.
When I refer to the old Zena, I am referring to a woman I miss. A woman I was proud and confident in being. That woman vanished the day my husband died. Losing him changed me in so many ways and altered every fibre of my being. I lost my innocence. I was merely existing and in survival mode, white-knuckling my way through my days, just barely getting by and not enjoying life. Existing. Surviving. Life was now in black and white. It had no colour, no essence, no vibrancy. It was a grim struggling.
Transitioning from surviving to thriving is far more challenging than pushing oneself to go to the gym or taking a moment to meditate.
And in our darkest challenging days, sometimes survival is all that we are capable of doing. And that is okay. As time moves forward, we then have a chance to prosper, grow and vigorously flourish from the flames we have walked through - still astonished we are still standing.
When you have been in survival mode for days, months, even years, there is comfort in its familiar discomfort.
I came to a point where I wanted to grieve my loss in a healthier way than what I had been doing. I was on a distressing, unproductive path.
And to be brave to acknowledge you want change takes deliberate consistent action. One of these action steps for me was the Grief Recovery Method. I recall the very moment my life shifted, and I felt different. I would meet with my grief companions every week, and even they noticed a change in my mere presence. I felt awake. Life started to have shades of colour.
There is a monumental difference between surviving and thriving, and I am here to tell you that thriving after a loss is attainable.
Recovery is possible. It will be at your own pace, in your own time. But it will happen, especially if you want it to happen. It is okay to miss the old you and the life you once lived. However, embrace the new soldier within because you have survived a battle most would falter. Embrace this new life that is before you, no matter how daunting it may be. Appreciate the blessings that are around you and the memories you hold so dear. It is friggin hard to move forward. I know! But the world is a beautiful place, so embrace the life that you have. And find new joys within your sorrow.
I no longer exist in my grief. I live with it and thrive in it. Grief is a lifetime badge you will always wear. It is your choice how you will wear that badge.
With love. Or disdain.