Resilience: When poppies grow beside railroad tracks

Dear Widows and Widowers, and those who love them, if you’re reading this post, you are resilient. In our society, simply reading and talking about death, dying, and rebuilding one’s life after a tragedy or trauma is an act of resilience.  Smile and pat yourself on the back.  Well done. Good start. Keep going.

In the early days following the death of my husband and brother I was often told how strong I was. I would politely nod and think to myself “Man, are you wrong.  Waking up is not an act of strength. It’s just something that happens.”  It took a long time for me to learn that, though waking up just happens, ‘getting up’ does qualify as an act of strength and resilience. Each action that follows the opening of one’s eyes qualifies as an act of strength and resilience, even if it’s just drinking coffee, and feeding oneself- especially in the early days.

Interestingly, being floored and feeling as if one is stuck or, worse yet, regressing also qualifies. How is this possible, you might wonder?  Well, because allowing oneself to lie in bed in a culture that says you should get up and just get on with it, takes strength. Saying ‘No. This is where I need to be right now.’ requires GREAT strength.  If you’ve done this, good for you.  You listened to your body and not the voice in your head that wasn’t listening to your body. Figuring out how to do this effectively takes practice- lots of practice. It seems a bit of crazy that this something we need to learn.  But that is how it is.

Personally, I believe resting, when needed, helps us to become more resilient. It took me a while to figure this one out too. I used to feel as if I was failing when I rested. Wouldn’t it have made more sense if I could’ve just felt that I was tired and therefore, I needed to rest? If we are more resilient when we are rested, why wouldn’t we begin building resilience by resting? These are, of course, rhetorical questions.

I’ve learned these past years that when we are ready and feel at least somewhat rested, we do ‘get up’ again, either on our own or with the help of others. It just sometimes takes longer than some people think it should (LOL).  I’ve also learned that taking part in this whole process with its ups and downs, moving forwards and stepping backs, is what it means to be resilient.

Fully understanding that this is a process that may well last a lifetime has not been easy. I’ve had to learn that being resilient is not so much about embracing the day with the expectation that all is right with the world.  Being resilient is more about feeling that much is wrong with the world and then embracing that this is AS IT IS MEANT TO BE and HOW IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN- even if I never fully noticed it before. 

Being resilient is about understanding and accepting the world is all wrong and all right- ALL OF THE TIME. And then choosing to continue taking part in it because that is what it means to be alive.  

So dear readers, if any of this sounds familiar and if the path before you has ever been a dead end that started once more a little to the left, know that you are (and always will be) resilient.  You’ve already got this figured out. Congratulations.

Till next time,

Stay well



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