Up today in the quote series is one that I was asked to write about. This quote came to me from someone that I've only ever met online, but have come to know and love as a friend. It's a good one, for sure.
Incidentally, if there is a quote that you'd like me to write about in this series, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Off we go.
"Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn't people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them?"
~ Rose Kennedy
Ah, Rose. She is of course most well known as the mother of JFK, Robert and Ted Kennedy, but she was much more than that. She was born of privilege and wealth, but lived a life of heartbreak that included, among other things, enduring the assassinations of two of her sons.
She's known for resilience in the face of loss, and this quote is just one of many well known pieces of her wisdom.
This quote was sent to me by a woman who knows what Rose meant perhaps more than most people ever will. When terrible things happen to us, when we experience painful losses, when tragedy strikes, it is easy to let that define you. It's far easier to mourn indefinitely than it is to figure out how to truly move on.
Our society is such a strange one when it comes to grief. We don't like sadness, we don't like loss, we are afraid of death in a bizarre way here. We don't do well at recognizing and acknowledging grief. We push people to suck it up, to overcome, to deal with it and move on. We give ourselves unreasonable expectations for how we should process losses too, and none of it does us any favors.
For as much as we are collectively in denial about grief, for as much as we cringe at it when we see it, it is a part of life.
We all lose people.
We all have things go wrong.
We all experience loss at some point.
Live long enough and it is inevitable.
What matters is how we cope with it, and by coping I mean actually processing it as opposed to the superficial management that society likes to see.
Society just wants things to be "better", even if "better" is nothing more than a bandaid.
We need time to process the things in life that don't go the way we believe they should. We need to feel all the feelings, we need to grieve. We need to let go of the past. We need to do all that, and rarely are we given the time, space and opportunity to do so.
If we don't, though, if we just put the fake smile on and act like we're okay, we never really heal.
I think that that quote says that isn't enough. We need to do more.
It says that once we endure a loss, we need to accept that life isn't going to be the way we thought. Once we recognize the paths that won't be walked and the futures that can never be, only then can we truly find happiness again.
I know that in my life, this has been true. I also know that after enduring heartbreak and loss, I had to get to a place of acceptance. Then, I had a choice to make. I had to choose to be happy again.
Choosing to seek happiness can be terrifying when you've lost so much before. It's simpler to just say that things will always be awful, that they'll never be perfect so why bother trying.
It just isn't living, not fully anyway.
It's existing, and that isn't the same thing at all.
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