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I'm a Survivor, and so are You

Surviving Grief and Loss and moving forward

We're all being challenged in our ability to continue adjusting to cope with the current events of our world. And if you're feeling the darkness of grief or depression, the isolation, your mood can be heavy. We feel so many emotions in grief and it leaves us feeling weak, vulnerable, and trapped in the underside of life. We can feel stuck in a downward spiral and that nobody else can pull us up. But I'm a survivor, and so are you.

Even if nobody we love has passed away recently, we grieve for our former lives that seemed stable and had a degree of certainty and routine. There is a light, however dim, that we can move toward, as surely as dawn follows darkness.

One of the benefits of being a survivor is the personal growth that we gain from our trials and tribulations. Ready or not, change comes. if we don't like what we're currently experiencing, we still need to ride the wave, experience the intensity, then allow ourselves to be taken into the calmer shallows. The worst of times do end. It's part of a natural cycle that we learn from. We can be effected in ways that lead to acceptance, self-love, self-reliance, and a new appreciation of life. That's how I define spiritual growth.

But lets back-peddle a bit ... sometimes we have to go through losses that challenge us to our core. Before the dawn comes the darkness, and it can be difficult to find our way out of the darkness. We have to move slowly in the dark, lest we stumble and compound our pain. It's hard to see ahead, so we need to feel our way forward with small steps, convincing ourselves that our footing is on solid ground, then inch forward with anticipation of getting to where we'd like to go. We feel safe, and begin to think that things will be okay.

We can turn on the light for ourselves when we learn to trust ourselves, our situation, and then refocus, let go, and keep moving forward. This can bring us out of the darkness, and help us to regain peace of mind. How do we do it? We have to realize that we are survivors. We're still here, and we can't live with our heads in the sand like an ostrich. Because we enjoy living at a higher level of awareness and opportunity.

My Personal Journey of Life after Loss

My spouse passed away from melanoma before he was old enough to retire. It was life changing for me, and led to months of grieving and uncertainty. But after a while I decided that I wanted to feel better, and that I had to make some hard choices; stay stuck in some lifestyle habits that weren't serving me well, or choose to do something new. Changing out of a routine means making conscious choices to do something different. Over and over again. New priorities were essential to creating a new life for myself. It was a second chance, starting over at mid life.

What I discovered was that simple changes, repeated over many weeks, months, even years, can create a new personality, a new life. I got to decide how I wanted my life to be. This is different than when we start out as children. When we're young we don't have control of our lives, adults do. When I figured out what I didn't want to do anymore, it freed up space and time to do new things. To move forward newly unbroken. I got a payoff from this that made me feel better and better.

After accepting my new status in life, as a widow now, I moved forward with more confidence and inner peace. I decided to maintain social connections by becoming more involved in my community, and volunteered to help others on a regular basis. I attended group events to meet new people who shared common interests, and even started dating. I became more spiritual, and developed myself from the inside out. I began a trajectory of creative self expression and found inspiration everywhere. I slowed down enough to embrace new experiences, and chose wisely because time is non-refundable.

I learned that I had the power to make choices that allowed me to live how I wanted to live. I'm a survivor, and life is for the living. I learned to trust the process. To be more mindful and appreciate the small things. This includes being patient as well as realizing that something that is for you can appear suddenly. The process of change isn't something that can be observed in a day, but happens gradually, like the unfolding of a beautiful flower bud. The new bloom seems like a miracle.

beautiful flower bloom

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Gail Swinburne
Gail Swinburne
Jan 21, 2022

Thank you for putting it out there, trials and tribulations!

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