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How to survive another day of hell after the loss of a child

Finding peace and permission to move forward with your life

Image Courtesy Ben White on Unsplash

Someone ask me advice on how to support a guy friend on an impending ‘another day of hell’ for the upcoming birthday of a son who died 9 years earlier. In her aching heart of wanting to be supportive, as well as, wanting to understand, she asks ‘how do you move forward with peace?”

I could totally relate to the ‘another day of hell’. As I was asked this, I reflected for a few moments on the agony I felt losing my own son who at the time of this was almost 7 years since his death. I remember so much sadness, emptiness, self-blame, deep regret with lots of what if’s, and oh yeah, the anger.

I recall this overwhelming sense of wondering now what do I do? How was I supposed to act? I mean really a piece of your soul is gone. I had spent day in and day out providing care and coordinating care. Dealing with life and death decisions. Working. In school. Plus providing some basic care for my older son. Thank God he was resourceful and fairly self-sufficient.

For me, the truth was no one could possibly make this better. So, I did the same thing I had done for all the other tragedies and painful experiences in my life…get up and put on my pretend-life-is-fine outfit and kept moving to pay the bills.

And after a while I got tired of that. I got tired of worrying about what others thought about how I should be and what I should do.

And I gave myself permission to be happy without sacrificing memories and mourning, if I choose too.

So I guess, the short answer is PERMISSION.

We all have ‘stuff’. Some of us have A LOT of stuff. Death, divorce, abandonment, domestic abuse, health issues, loss of income — the list goes on, right?

Knowing how to heal, and how to let go, and how to forgive, and when to give yourself permission to MOVE FORWARD WITH PEACE can feel confusing because societal norms make it awkward.

It can also be liberating. It allows you to connect back to yourself. It’s a step to tap into your authentic truth. It’s an opportunity to re-purpose your life to show up bigger and better than before.

Once I gave myself permission to be happy despite the daily ebbs and flows of the emotions. I knew happiness was not a sole decision. I did a lot of inner work — not only to deal with the loss of Lucas, also, the stress, and the fractured relationship with my older son and other relationships — also, to find my true nature again. It has been a beautiful process that has build a greater resilience and compassion within me both for myself and others.

If you’re wondering how to move forward with peace…I give you permission to give yourself permission. Surrender the expectations and give yourself some space to take a look at who you really are and all your potential that is lying dormant as you live in the past. It’s not about forgetting. I believe it’s more about accepting and allowing so you can ‘be’.

You cannot move forward living each moment in the past. Yup, it hurts. I know that. I promise there is PEACE on the other side.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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