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The Gift That Comes From Grief

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I often write about how grief has changed me, how loss has heightened my sensitivity to my surroundings, to others, to life itself. It is never more apparent than when I listen to a meaningful song or see a beautiful landscape. I often think about how my awareness and perception has been altered, and how others may view or hear the very same things I do, yet the meaning is lost on them. Am I simply hypersensitive or are others missing it? In loss, do we become gifted with the ability to view the magic of the world and the meaning of life as it was created for us? In suffering, do we become blessed with a softened heart?

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Stephen Colbert talked about grief and said, “I learned to love the thing that I most wish had not happened.” Colbert went on to say, “What punishment of the Gods are not gifts. It is a gift to exist and with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping that.” Colbert spoke of the awareness of other people’s loss that enables you to connect with other people which allows you to then, “love more deeply and to understand what it’s like to be a human being if it’s true that all humans suffer.” Colbert expressed what most grievers have learned in their suffering — we become more alive after loss. We do become more sensitive to the suffering of others. In grief we begin to appreciate the gifts of life, because a life was taken from us.

I was blessed having my grandson Konnor in my life. He brought such joy and love into my life in the short time he was here. For everything that is beautiful, and everything that is meaningful reminds me of him. I see Konnor in every beautiful image. I hear Konnor within the lyrics of a song, he is my melody. I think of Konnor when I hear about the death of a child. I will for the rest of my life take special meaning in everything I see, everything I hear and all that I do because I am free of the barriers that weighed me down. His death has opened my eyes to a world that would have otherwise been elusive. In Konnor’s death, I have experienced a greater consciousness in life and increased feelings of empathy.

It is with the loss of my grandson that I awoke. It took a very long time for the ache to soften enough for me to acknowledge the lesson — that life is fragile. I now understand the significance of a moment. The weight of grief has lightened my load. I believe Konnor has taught me life lessons; not just in his time on earth, but also in his death. I look up and see the angel shaped cloud, and I smile for I have learned the importance of faith and to believe. I look around me and I see those I love in all our imperfections and I have learned acceptance. I struggle with the changes in my life, but I have learned patience. I have suffered tremendous loss and I have learned gratitude.

In life, we tend to be in a hurry especially when we become responsible adults. We have goals we set for ourselves, we have obligations. We rush to get to work, we hurry to complete our errands and then we rush to get home. In searching to obtain these desires we lose the ability to “stop and smell the flowers.” We become so distracted we deprive ourselves of the simple joys that are right in front of us. We have not learned how to take a breath and look at the glory of life. To just breathe.

Rather than practice gratitude, we tend to unconsciously take things for granted. We do this until something happens that snaps us out of this daze of repetition. Maybe it’s an illness or injury, maybe it’s a sudden death. This is when we replay everything in our minds and we want a do-over. It is in the darkness of suffering we discover life.

We understand the importance of family, a sunrise and simple pleasures.

We realize we have been searching for something that was right in front of us all along…life.

Grievers know that in an instant everything can be forever changed, so we hug a little tighter and for a little longer. As Stephen Colbert said, “We understand what it is to be human.” It is indeed a gift. So we pause to smell that flower, we walk slower, we find meaning in the lyrics and we say, “I love you.” We have realized the value of love and life.

There will continue to be days when little things become overwhelming, and I drift between the beauty of this life and the tragedy of death. Yet I seem to find meaning in the simplest of things, even when I am not searching for it. I turn my thoughts to all that I have and those that I love. I sense his presence touching me like a warm breeze. Konnor will for the rest of my life, be the reason for my happiness and my greatest sorrow.

“Oh, what a world, don’t wanna leave
All kinds of magic all around us, it’s hard to believe
Thank God it’s not too good to be true
Oh, what a world, and then there is you.”

-“Oh, What A World” by Kasey Musgraves


Photo submitted by contributor.

Originally published: October 17, 2019
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