Growing up I remember having a realization that each superhero had a story and their “weakness” actually helped make them strong for themselves and others. When Peter Parker lost both his parents and later his Uncle Ben or when Bruce Wayne lost his parents there was a new normal. Each day that followed they knew they would never be the same. It was through these changes that Peter became Spiderman and Bruce became Batman. My story is not that different. I was in college when my mom passed away. It was Spring and my peers were almost solely focused on exams and the upcoming summer. For a moment I had a difficult time seeing one day in front of me. I felt a host of feelings as each person’s experience of grief is unique. I certainly felt shock, deep pain and sadness, anger, a sense of loneliness and at times I wondered how I would continue living without the person I thought would always be there for me. If you have lost a close loved one or experienced various types of grief or trauma you will likely relate to this. What happened next was unexpected.
People refer to grief as the gift you never wanted. How can grief be a gift? The loss is not the gift. The gift is what has happened through you, to which you could never truly be the same again. It was through watching the written story of superheroes that I discovered
there is a pinnacle moment when something traumatic, often tragic happens and though they will never be the same they can choose how they will respond. That was the moment I realized we can choose how we respond to the loss.
“I had a lot to learn about the new normal and I needed a community around me to do so.”
When I was growing up I lived for what was ahead of me and what I wanted. However, after the loss I realized that life was not nearly as long as I had previously thought. I also noted that tomorrow wasn’t guaranteed for you or for me. Learning to manage this new perspective was not easy. At times I was passionate about helping others and making the most of my life and at other times of sadness I took actions that were reckless, feeling like I had nothing to lose. I believe that attending to my loss and adjusting to the new normal had literally allowed me to create a new way of thinking. I had a lot to learn about the new normal and I needed a community around me to do so.
These superpowers have since been shared with people of different languages and cultures around the world. We have learned a lot from one another. As a certified educator I taught students for over a decade and would impart this knowledge and the importance of making the most of their time and the ability to change the world now, even as a child! Today I counsel individuals, couples and families and often when my story meets theirs we see that each individual is changed by various kinds of loss. Whether in my office or in a crowded room my message is clear: take the time to work through the pain and recognize what it looks like to grieve. Surround yourself with a loving community and see how you have been changed by loss. Embrace the gift and learn to use your superpower. It was not until years later that I realized this gift was never meant for me or for you, but to those around us. You and I have superpowers. Now it is our time to embrace the gift and choose how we will respond to the new normal.