As a result of the loss of someone we love, we feel an emotional pain that is far more painful than most physical pain. It is the unavoidable human condition. We suffer from grief. Grief is the deep sorrow that derails our lives, overwhelms us with a myriad of emotions and forces us to rethink what we are doing on this planet anyway. As a result of the loss, emotional and mental pain causes us to suffer.
Today, I decided to look up the definition of suffering. It is defined as a verb; “to experience or be subjected to something bad or unpleasant” and to “tolerate something painful”. As I sat at my desk, staring at my computer screen, I wondered about my own grief and the suffering I’ve been experiencing. I asked myself, “Am I tolerating the loss of my son?” “Is the pain I feel and the suffering I’m experiencing merely something unpleasant that I’m being subjected to? Am I really just doing my best to tolerate the pain?”
I sat in silence as I pondered these questions. As I began to replay my experiences in my mind, the room seemed to darken and things got quiet. I took myself back to the days shortly after Jackson died. I was simply tolerating my pain. I did believe that losing him was something bad. Saying goodbye to him as I held him in my arms was certainly unpleasant. I remember sitting there, as a victim of my own life and asked God, why did this happen to me?
But as I began to heal, the pain I was feeling shifted away from suffering. I needed to understand why this happened. I needed to find meaning in my pain and suffering and that’s when the concept of Grief INSPIRED began to form. I explored why God would allow this to happen to anyone. Especially me.
I stopped resisting my pain and suffering, and instead leaned into it as I tried to make sense of it all. I needed to understand it. I hunted for the why. I embraced my suffering. I tackled my grief as if I were in school, studying and building connections with what I was learning. And as I continued to research, ponder, and process all of it, I kept coming back to one thing.
The love I had for my son.
He weighed only 2.2lbs when he was born. He lived for six short weeks. But the impact he had on my life was the very meaning I needed to find. He was given to me by God for a very specific reason.
So, was the suffering I experienced really something bad or unpleasant per the definition of suffering? Or was it more?
Out of my suffering came creation and love. My suffering taught me that only through connection with others can I find true meaning and purpose. It was my suffering that gave me purpose and meaning. My suffering taught me compassion and joy. My suffering brought me gratitude. Today, I am no longer “tolerating” my pain as the definition of suffering states.
Grief INSPIRED was created to bring meaning to my personal experience of suffering and pain and as a way to channel that pain to help others who are experiencing their own grief. At Grief INSPIRED, I believe that as we share our grief, our pain, and our suffering with others we heal. We give others permission to share their story and heal as well. We are not alone in our grief. We can do more than just survive grief. We are a community of humans, experiencing the human condition, connected through our pain and stronger because of our love. We can help one another from what we’ve suffered. I invite and encourage you to share your story. Honor your loved one. Find your meaning and purpose. Love.
Here is a quote from C.S. Lewis that I find insightful.
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
A special thanks to Rev. Minh Do, Associate Pastor of St Francis Catholic Church for his insightful thoughts that helped me develop this blog.
Catherine McNulty, Founder of Grief INSPIRED
Please join my Facebook Support Group. Grief INSPIRED: Create Meaning in Loss https://goo.gl/oQYmVF