10 Years On: Growth from Grief and the Joyride of Life.
2018 marks 10 years since my late husband Ben was killed in a motorcycle accident. Five years since I published Keep Going: From Grief to Growth.
It’s a weird feeling to have a whole decade between us. His face remains in sharp focus in my mind. His spirit continues to be by my side as I navigate this roller coaster called Life.
At Ben’s life celebration, I was doing my best to maintain a brave face and positive attitude in the midst of a shattered heart and devastating loss. I believed Ben deserved more than a blubbering sobbing wife at the party of his life. I had already been a blubbering sobbing daughter at my dad’s funeral only a few months before.
I was determined to keep it together, as I knew if I allowed sorrow to overtake me now, it would be a rigorous climb clawing and crawling back out. And I knew I’d be too exhausted to do so. So instead, I clung to every shred of joy around me: a kind word, a smile, a hug, a beautiful flower. Anything reminding me beauty still existed in life, right alongside the pain and sorrow.
These acted as little touchstones whispering to me that everything will be okay, things will get better.
A neighbor didn’t like my positive outlook. She made it her business to keep saying things in an effort to bring me down. Some of the things I won’t repeat, most of it I can’t remember. At some point, a family member thankfully intervened to be a buffer and save me from interacting with her.
But somehow, at some point she broke through the barrier to tell me this: “You know, it’s nice you’re being all positive and stuff (said with a sarcastic sneer) but your life is going to be really hard now.”
Yes, that’s what she said.
If you are an adult (and I’m assuming you are, given you are reading this), you know life comes with challenges, disappointments, losses, heartaches and heartbreaks. Do you really need reminding of that? No, I didn’t think so.
You know what co-exists alongside the pain? The joys of life: the smiles, the embraces, kindness, compassion and love. Sunrises and sunsets. The beauty of nature. Do you need a reminder to see those things sometimes, particularly when moving through the mist of pain? Me too.
So yes, my old neighbor was right. Life can be hard. But that’s not the whole story. It is also filled with love and joy and ease. I chose to focus on the latter.
Let’s be clear. It’s not ignoring the pain, it’s moving through it. Moving, and not getting stuck in it. Oddly enough, acknowledging the pain will empower you to move through it more quickly, to learn and grow from it. To be a better, more loving and compassionate person because of it. To be able to lend a helping hand to fellow humans moving through similar situations. We all need help at times on this wild ride.
The saying goes, “Time heals all wounds.” I call bullshit on that. Intention, attention and choices help you heal, or they hurtle you back and keep you stuck in pain. Time adds up your efforts on this and affects that change.
Intention: Being clear and declaring what you want in life. For me, it was love, travel, adventure, and freedom.
Attention: Paying attention to what you want more of in life. Like watering a garden regularly and taking out the weeds.
Choices: The choice to take action. Or inaction, which can be just as healing. The choice to say No to opportunities, people and places that don’t make your heart sing, or feel tiresome or threatening. The choice to follow your heart’s deepest desires and say Yes to yourself.
Consider putting joy in your life account, it’s the best compound interest you will ever earn. Soon, all those little joys add up to create a life you love, unleashing more magic and miracles than you ever could have imagined.
So, my friend, the next time life feels hard, remember that’s not the whole story. Set an intention, give it your attention, and make choices to turn it into a reality.
When you get to the end of your own life, may you look back with wonder on this exhilarating ride.
Wishing you blessings, love and joy on your journey.
Aimee DuFresne is a Joy Catalyst and soul-shifting creator, coach, traveler, and latte-lover. She is the proud author of Keep Going: From Grief to Growth, a memoir about love, loss, living in the moment, and the power of perseverance. With no home base, she travels the world with her wine consultant hubster, house and petsitting, while working on writing projects, including her next books. You could contact her via her website.