Is the glass half full or half empty? Is the day partly sunny or partly cloudy? Maybe your answer depends on the day or circumstances… Did you get your list accomplished or did that driver just cut you off? Too often “life happens,” and we have to deal with the hand that is dealt. Do we learn from our experiences – both accomplishments and defeats, and continue to move forward or do we let our experiences define what is possible or impossible and give up?
We listened today to our colleague and friend speak at the Legacy Foundation Luncheon. This extraordinarily strong woman shared about her experience of losing her son almost eight years ago. In her grief, she wrote her book titled No Ordinary Son, which was written to share her story with others; with all of us to help us experience how wickedly brutal grief can be and what we can choose to do with it. Our table was sharing napkins to wipe away our tears because we weren’t prepared with Kleenexes. Then, we had to reapply our make-up once we returned to our offices. In the end, our colleague received a standing ovation and applause that was filled with love and emotion!
In her short 40 minutes of sharing her incredible journey with us, these five points struck a chord in our hearts. Below we share our interpretation of them:
Grief is cruel: Everyone experiences grief differently. It can be the green monster that haunts us to shreds. Anger can imprison us. Grief can come and go, and we can’t be sure when it will hit us hardest or again and again. Lean on loved ones; we don’t have to do this alone.
Do something: When a loss occurs, sometimes people tend to not say or do anything because of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Doing nothing seems to be better than doing something that is wrong. She gently reminded us that doing nothing is way worse than doing something that is wrong. She thought people didn’t care when they chose the do nothing route. Do something for others who have experienced loss. Do not worry if it is wrong or right. Do it anyway!
Happiness is a choice: People sometimes wait their whole life to be happy. We make the choice to be happy. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A person will be about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” Our colleague encouraged all of us to choose happiness each and every day.
Time DOES NOT heal all wounds: Time does not take away the pain of losing someone we love. However, there is hope in knowing that we can and will survive a tragedy. The loved one continues to live on with us. We can be better people when we remember them and live for today.
Family is the foundation to survival: She not only lost her son, she also lost her family and the way it used to be. She lost her parents because she used to go to them for reassurance in life and she no longer felt like she could. She lost her Best Friend who used to listen to her and love her and never leave her. Today, she knows family is what helped her heal. Her family members walked by her side and never left her. And that Best Friend…He never did leave her side, in fact He carried her through her darkest days.
Next time you are speaking with a friend in a coffee shop, in your classroom with your students, or in a line near a stranger, remember the lens you choose to use can make all the difference in your perspective. Thank you, Tanya McCoss-Yerigan, for sharing your story with us and reminding us that happiness is attainable even in the worst of times.