My name is Lisa. I work as a child and adult psychologist in our community.
It’s been almost eight years since my husband and child passed away. I survived the car accident, but they didn’t. My broken bones healed, but my broken heart has been the biggest challenge to live with. Last year, my beloved father passed away. Like you, I’m no stranger to loss.
I see our community reeling from loss upon loss. I see how frightened many are as the distance between death and life has closed or narrowed for so many.
I have learned as a psychologist and survivor that death is as much a part of life as breath. I have learned that pain is a natural response to death, and that in life, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. I understand that “suffering is what our mind does to us”. (David Kessler).
David Kessler is an American grief expert. He has repeatedly been called upon to help the nation understand the psychological impact of COVID-19 and the loss on all levels it leaves in its wake. Kessler’s latest book is titled, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. It’s our destiny to make meaning, to learn from life. As I sit with parents and children in loss and hold my own, this is some of what I have come to understand:
Enjoy your children; enjoy your life; and teach yourselves how to take control of your mind.
As a parent, I remember how busy life can be. We take care of our children’s physical needs. We provide, feed, clothe, educate, and stimulate them, but do we make enough time to enjoy them? To join a child in play is remarkable. Here we are able to delight in the joy they bring to our world. How precious they are, and how precious it is to be alive!
The more we are present in our lives, the less we fear death.
Now, I take the time to turn inward, to be still on a regular basis and ask: what gives my life meaning? Then I prioritise it.
When you are deeply engaged in life, there isn’t too much space for fear and suffering. The pain will be there, but the living will be larger. In this way, we, too, reduce our suffering. My prayer is simple: may we have the capacity to allow loss to teach us all how to live a more meaningful life.
• Published in the print edition of the May 2021 issue. Download the May 2021 issue PDF here.
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