We are overwhelmed by loss and think we will never recover a sense of self and purpose, that we will never mend. But despite – and, really, because of – the struggles and the tragedies in our lives, each of us has the capacity to gain the perspective that transforms us, from victim to thriver. Dr. Edith Eva Eger
I want to be a thriver. I know it is possible because Dr. Eger thrives despite the atrocities inflicted upon her and those around her, including her mother and father, as prisoners during the Holocaust. I know it is possible because of her mentor, Viktor Frankl, who thrived despite the same unspeakable circumstances.
I am in no way comparing my experiences to those of Holocaust victims. That was a horror rooted in evil and injustice.
But we do share this in common -- a profound sense of loss that renders us different people than we were before. The question is, what does different look like? Are we now angry, bitter, resigned, hateful? These are all valid responses to injustice, to pain, to loss. They all make sense.
What I know from experience and from reading works like The Choice and Man’s Search for Meaning (by Frankl) is that we become our own jailers if we allow those feelings to persist longer than is healthy or appropriate and to suck us under like quicksand.
Through the years, I’ve waded through some quicksand. Losing Chandler is a different kind of quicksand. Watching him in the hospital, then saying goodbye to him, it was, it IS, the worst kind of excruciating pain I can imagine. I’m ever aware of the quicksand. Sometimes I’m pulled along by friends and family, and sometimes it feels like I’ve managed to extricate myself from the mire and move on to more solid ground. Then….a picture, a Facebook memory, a smell, someone’s laugh that sounds like Chandler’s. It could be anything or nothing at all that reminds me how deep I am. That every day, I have to make a choice to keep moving or become stuck and begin to sink.
By the grace of God, I will not sink. I will be a thriver.