This past year has felt extra heavy with loss. Depression and grief and how to handle them have been different. 2020 was the year that most of us had to sit home. This meant sitting with a lot. Sitting with our thoughts. Sitting with our feelings. Sitting with emotions and ghosts of our past we were so used to escaping. Many turned to vices, good and bad. It had so many of us looking deeper into our lives. Looking to find new meaning and reprioritizing our goals and what is important to us.
For some it meant changing careers, for others it was marriage or divorce or maybe giving way to a new life. The circle of life certainly didn’t stop in this past year. It felt like there were more deaths than I can ever remember. But maybe, there were more lives, too. And maybe not just physically, but metaphorically. I truly believe that many of us who felt dead inside, began to really live our lives. Looking inward and really questioning why we are here. What is our purpose?
I know it made me think a lot about mine. I started thinking about wanting a new career, not just more money, but a new purpose. It felt scary, but it also started to feel like not changing was even scarier! It made me value my life a bit more. It made me realize that life is too short to wake up miserable! I was determined to live my life the best way for me and no one else!
In this past year, it felt as if so many of my friends and loved ones have been experiencing much more loss. I started thinking about the losses in my own life. How grief affected me. You see, until I lost my dad, I didn’t understand what losing a parent is like. Then I started to feel it more when my friends went through it. I wanted to be there for them and find a way to help them through. But here’s the thing, grief is an individual journey. It’s something we can’t “fix” for anyone.
I started thinking about how grief is universal. We all experience it. We all lose loved ones at some point in our lives. I really wanted to understand how some people, who have lost more than one person at a time, or even whole families at once, can continue to go on and live their lives. This is where we go back to the idea of living our best lives. Living our lives to the fullest.
Living our lives for OURSELVES and not to please others!
So far, this is what I know…
- We have to live for moments, because it’s the little moments we cherish the most. It’s in a smile, a laugh, a kiss, a hug…those are what makes a difference. Think about some of your best memories of a loved one. For me, when I’m missing a loved one it helps to think of a time they made me laugh. Like remembering the sound of my friend Kevin’s laugh or a smart ass remark my dad made. Maybe it’s a painted rock or kind gesture my friend Katie gave me that showed how much she loved me.
- We don’t have to do something grand to make a difference in someone’s life. Just a card, a text, a phone call can make someone’s day. Did you ever get a good morning text or a call to make sure you made it home safe? Those small gestures are the greatest form of love. Just knowing someone cares enough to think of you.
- We don’t have to be famous or make history to live our purpose. I think about Maya Angelou’s quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When my dad passed and my son got up to share some words about him this is exactly what he said! He said papa always made him feel like he could do anything! We all need someone who does this for us. That is something that makes a difference.
Something else I’ve learned on this journey is that as much as I want to reach out and be there for everyone, not only is it an individual journey, sometimes I need to protect my own energy. I love to be there for my friends and help them, but I can’t always give my energy away. Some days I need it for me. So in writing these words, I hope to help send you some of this positive energy. I hope to reach you all and help you in a different way. Remember, sometimes you don’t hear from others, not because they don’t care, but because they need to fill their own cup first. Remember friendship is a two way street and sometimes you have to check on your friends who seem strongest!
Let me know in the comments how you remember a loved one or what you’re doing to find your purpose.