by Deborah Anthony
Once again, it is my pleasure and honor to have been invited by Peggy Sweeney to participate in her undertakings to support bereaved parents. I have been a bereaved Mom since 1984, became a healed bereaved Mom in 2004 and upon successfully completing my own journey, helping others has become a passion for me also.
I would like to share an excerpt from my newest book, Recapturing the Joy “Bridging the Grief Gap”. I authored and published this one in 2013 and its goal is to close the gap that exists between the bereaved and those wishing to support us. This excerpt is from the Epilogue of the book and I am trusting it will be of interest to both grievers and non-grievers. For the purposes of this article, I am calling it ….
“The Disguised Blessing”
I would like to share my thoughts on what I refer to as the disguised blessing. We all have it and it is my wish that upon reading the following remarks, you each will choose to acknowledge your ownership of it and use it accordingly. That is my wish for both grievers and non-grievers.
Let me share a personal story that will begin to illuminate for you that so very special disguised blessing.
I can clearly recall attending meetings for bereaved parents upon the death of my daughter. I would attend and we would all share what happened to us, cry, hug, and support each other as best we could. I did not really know what I was looking for but recognized it as soon as I saw it in front of me. When I did, I never went back to another meeting. We would have guest speakers each week and they would be other bereaved parents. On one occasion, a lady came in whose son had died eleven years previous. Her’s was a tragic story.
Her two year old had been taking a nap on a warm, sunny summer afternoon. When he didn’t awaken, as usual, she went to check on him and a plastic bag had blown in his open window, landed on his face, and suffocated him. As tragic as the occurrence, and as unacceptable as the “earthly” explanation was, here was this woman standing in front of me who looked happy, who had managed to recapture her joy of life. I walked out knowing it was possible and only then became cognizant of the fact that what I had been seeking was the confirmation that where I was sitting did not have to be permanent.
This lady had shone her light brightly and it was invaluable. My life was about to undertake yet another monumental change. Shining our light is everlasting proof that the heart-to-heart connection between people is still alive and well. That connection is somewhat severed, to say the least, in our world of today. You don’t have to know another to care for them. It is instinctual for us.
This lady, dear sweet Marie, was able to give me a starting point for me to be able to move from the darkness of grief and back into the light. The darkness of grief can be likened to being in a real tunnel. Being in a tunnel is dark, we first have to reach out; then we begin to feel our way. We may experience pain in the process because sometimes we can hurt ourselves or fall. We must face the smells and sounds in the tunnel, take our time, and so much more. We will be scared, annoyed, apprehensive, tired, frustration, and perhaps angry if we can’t find our way out. Healing grief is the exact same process. It is a combination of thoughts, feelings, emotions, and senses. There is light, joy, and happiness waiting at the end of the tunnel. Those are the rewards.
I often wonder where I might have ended up if this lady had not been ready, willing, and able to shine her light. I am so grateful that she did, because finding the starting point of our journey often eludes us. When my belief in “there is light at the end of the tunnel” was confirmed by her, and standing right in front of me, it was a gift I was not going to ignore.
Since the beginning of time, nothing has changed with regard to what comes naturally for humans. To be honest, we should stop and have a look at the rest of the animal kingdom as nothing has changed for them either, since the beginning of time, and they are doing better than people. They have a very clear understanding of the circle of life, as should we. Why we have bought into the conclusion that we are the smartest of the animal kingdom, I’m not sure.
Have you ever wondered what has happened to the concept of “this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine”? I grew up with that one, and with the musical version. Shining one’s light is the way to live. We all have one. We were born with it. It is our disguised blessing.
It seems to me the world has taken us to a concept of “this little light of mine, am I allowed to let it shine”? I see all kinds of people, on a daily basis, who are not letting it shine and I know all kinds of people who have not even recognized they came into the world with one.
Both concepts come into play in the realm of grief and bereavement. Whether we are someone who lives by the first or second concept outlined above, we often interact with those grieving without our light shining. For some reason, we are afraid to do so. In reality, it is a piece of self that would allow for what both sides need in such a time. So, let’s have a look at what the issue might be.
Where and when did we stop allowing our being to flow naturally and instinctively, as we were designed? Experiencing fear or discomfort is a trigger for us that we are going against our natural flow. There are no rules of grief, just as there are no rules of aid to the grievers. All of the components of the grief journey for bereaved parents, of which there are a multitude, would not be required if we were not held back by what I will refer to as “the mythical rules of who?”. We have somehow reached a point where we believe doom and gloom is the only way to go when grieving or interacting with grievers.
One should not be afraid to show their honest and true feelings and emotions and share their thoughts. It is what we are meant to do. When one person chooses to do so, another should not be offended, take it personally, or make any judgment. That is not what we are meant to do. Everyone is supposed to let their little light shine, in all circumstances, as best they can.
I am not suggesting an upbeat behavior that would be unacceptable to the circumstance. I am referring to allowing your own “real” light to shine. In doing so, you remind us, the bereaved, that the “light of life” is still intact. Perhaps it may not resonate like that for us, right at that time, but the subtle message that it is still available to us is a crucial one for us to receive. Most especially at a time in our life when we are not only unable to recall its existence on our own, but evoking it is not possible either. I encourage everyone to be part of “lighting the way”. For some of us, that tiny little glimpse of a world with light can be a catalyst of faith and hope and a defining moment. Never underestimate its value.
To light the way, we must engage the blessing. You can search out a bereaved parent who has managed to have already found their starting point, and connect that person to the one you love whom you are trying to support should they not have the energy or ability to do so on their own.
When we are unable to shine our light, it can be cause to speculate about what is going on in our lives as a whole. When what is going on inside of self is not conducive to what is reflected to the outside world, the light will not shine. When we are unhappy and our hearts hurt, for whatever reason, the light will not shine.
The following expressions exemplify some of that which we are blessed with and represent gifts; gifts not only to be used on a daily basis for one’s own self, but also utilized to be showered upon others, most especially in times of distress. I would wish that all of us, grievers and non-grievers, and the world at large for that matter, recognize, take ownership of, and make the changes one might need to implement them.
“I was born with my own little light”
“I will let it shine”
“It is powerful”
“It will see me through and never fail me”
The sense of freedom and breath of fresh air doing the above would bring to all is something I believe we would enjoy. There would be no losers, only winners.
I will leave you with this Pearl of Wisdom and a wish for you to enjoy, embrace, and enact.
Pearl of Wisdom
“Use the inner light you were born with not only to guide self, but to also re-spark another’s when it becomes extinguished by any event which causes it to go out. You will never regret it.”
Much love to all ~ Deborah ♥
About the Author: Deborah’s daughter, Erin Margaret Anthony, died in 1984 at the age of 6 as the result of being struck by a school bus she had just exited.