Working through grief can be arduous and heartwrenching. Acknowledging that reality doesn’t diminish how very necessary the work is.
We’re left with the question of how do we make it through the arduous, draining, and what can feel endless work to somehow make it to a new place in life where we don’t wake and live by grief alone. That’s where HOPE and REST are critical. So let’s talk about hope.
First, I want to draw on the expert’s* definition of hope. So here it goes… “Hope is not an emotion. Hope is a cognitive, behavioral process that we learn when we experience adversity, when we have relationships that are trustworthy, when people have faith in our ability to get out of a jam.”
And here is my favorite part…
“Hope is brokenhearted on the way to becoming wholehearted.”
It’s my favorite part because it means we who have broken hearts DO have the capacity for wholeheartedness. We are not hopeless. That’s some really good news. According to the experts, hope is a function of struggle. Put another way, in order to have hope you must have struggle. And I can confidently say, we have that in spades!
Hope is the quiet faith and belief in tomorrow being just a little better than today. Hope is the inner knowing that even though today feels worse than yesterday, you are working a winding way to healing, to joy, to purpose.
For me after losing Alison I pictured myself as a whole ball of mess and tears in a land called Grief and Pain. I could see a different land called Joy and Purpose. I thought I wanted to live there instead of Grief and Pain. (Well, most of the time anyways…there are times when I didn’t want to leave and that’s a whole different topic to be covered another time.) I could see there was a path that included deep and dark tunnels I had to go through to get to my destination. I had HOPE in the beginning seeing the land of Joy and Purpose and that there was a way there. So I started. Then I would get to one of those tunnels, I could see a pin prick of light at the end of the tunnel, providing enough HOPE to step into the tunnel. And even in the darkest parts of the tunnel I would cling to the vision I had of the land, the light I saw when I stepped in the tunnel. I trusted what I had seen. I trusted I could continue to move forward instead of backwards (even though it didn’t always feel that way). And I knew there were people already in the land of Joy and Purpose who believed in me. Who knew I could get there too.
Do you have people in your life that believe in you and instead of enabling and doing everything for you, hold space for you? They have confidence in your own ability to navigate your way to joy. This is critical. If you don’t, I invite you to reflect on if you believe in yourself? If not, start working on that, even if it’s baby steps. Here’s why…when you shift how you see yourself, how others see you and relate to you also changes. Other, more encouraging people also begin arriving in your life.
I believe in you, and that’s no bullshit. Here’s why…you’ve already taken steps. You’re here, you’ve sought a tribe of support, you’re investing time and energy into yourself and your process. You do have HOPE.
Peace and aloha,
* C. R. Snyder’s work from the University of Kansas at Lawrence and Dr. Brene Brown