Trauma can be an opportunity to start anew. When we have all that was ever precious to us suddenly ripped away, we are left feeling desolate and vulnerable. Everything that ever brought us joy is now but a very intangible memory. It is also true, that for a moment, even those things that brought us added stress or displeasure are temporarily obliterated from our minds. We are suddenly hyper-focused on the heart-stopping lightening that just struck us.
However, the potential for vast personal growth has been well-documented in the post-traumatic lives of countless individuals. This growth period, if one so chooses, can be highly gratifying—even empowering. This is not to say that such an achievement after trauma is either a quick process, nor to imply that it is not without great exertion on the part of the individual who is suffering…
I often imagine my life as a most cherished work of art—each stroke most thoughtfully construed… Then, out of nowhere (and I do mean nowhere!), right in the middle of creating my life’s masterpiece, some careless, thoughtless soul comes crashing in and completely trashes the entire scene—toppling it to the ground, running it over, and spilling paint all over it in the process. Ruined…everything is completely ruined!!!
This earth-shattering time can also be likened to pushing the restart button on an electronic device. Everything is reset. Many technical issues can be resolved by simply hitting restart. Even though we do not necessarily view our pre-trauma lives as having “issues,” we are nonetheless forced into restarting them. This is a precarious time; how will we proceed? As the numbness begins to wear off, and the reality sets in, this is a dilemma that all survivors must eventually face. No one escapes.
Sadly, it seems to be the push of our culture to urge the traumatized to rush this process of “restart/reboot” and “get back to normal.” Perhaps one of the greatest blessings I have discovered in my journey through grief, is to carefully decide which “programs” I will allow to restart in my new normal. Like building my own home, I get to decide where to place the front door and what view I desire to see from there…
Miraculously, God has given me a whole new pallet of colors I could not see before—everything needed to create something truly beautiful, and worthwhile. Instead of dwelling on the could have’s and should have’s of yesterday, I can simply decide to rework my beaten-up, but beloved, masterpiece—for every artist knows that any work of art is never truly completed!!! It is a joy and blessing to mark this old, worn canvas at my own pace, and with new-found intent in each stroke. Slowing down to first gear has helped me accomplish way more in reconstructing my fragmented life, than had I plowed through the process with little thought of what I was aiming to create.
Life is beautiful. Even with all of its countless disappointments and heartaches, it is still beautiful. I am so thankful to my God for blessing me with enough of what I need to continue to turn my masterpiece into a meaningful whole. Through the death of my daughter, and the heart-stopping pause, I have had time to reconstruct many details of my life that have enabled me to experience a much deeper level of gratitude, joy, and purpose that would not have been possible otherwise. Josie, you are truly a gift that keeps on giving, my sweetness!