Recently I had the pleasure of coaching a lovely young lady in her twenties.
Having lost her only sister to illness a few years ago, she was left feeling sad and lonely.
Grief is a normal, and some say healthy and necessary process which tends to get better with time and with the help and support of family and friends.
But what happens when grief takes over?
What if years after a loved one’s demise, we still feel unable to move on with our lives?
Mary (name has been changed for confidentiality purposes) had lost her lust for life. Her sister’s memory was hunting her, keeping her from moving forward, from making decisions in her professional, personal and social life… she’d kind of given up on herself and on life.
She told me she was dreading the summer, as she’d have to go away for a few weeks with college friends, but all the time she’d be thinking about her sister and about coming back home.
I told her the story of my dear childhood friend Jorge, who recently passed away of cancer.
How shocked I was to find out he’d been so ill for the past few years, and how sad I was that I wouldn’t be able to attend his funeral, and the thought that I’d never ever get to see him or talk to him again…
She looked at me quietly nodding, and so we connected at a deeper level.
I told her what he was like, how cool and unique he was, I told her about his little quirks… and we laughed.
I asked her about her sister.
She told me about their special bond, about her crazy sense of humour and great outlook on life… we laughed.
I said, gosh she was such a great and fun person… she was all those things and more, right?
Yet for some reason you seem to insist in keeping a memory alive that is not her at all.
So, instead of remembering her coolness, her great sense of humour, all the great moments you shared, all the lessons you learnt from her… you go away and think about yourself and how you want to come home… how selfish is that…?
There was silence. Her eyes did a weird thing, they moved in all directions very quickly…
Then she said: Oh my god, you’re right.
I asked her: what would your sister do if she went away for the summer?
She said she would have gone and make friends and have a great time.
So, if you are going to keep your sister’s memory alive, which is a great thing to do by the way, wouldn’t it make sense to go and do what She would have done…?
If you’re going to hold on to stuff, hold on to the good stuff, right?
Then I told her about how I keep my friend’s memory alive. He was a real punk rocker, an alternative type of guy. So, whenever I feel like I need a bit of a rebel edge I wear a leather biker jacket I bought, similar to the one he used to wear, and suddenly all these great memories come flooding back, and it always makes me smile. If I feel a little blah, I think, what would he do right now..? And I go do it, for him, for me.
She smiled nodding her head, as in her mind she was already looking for more useful, happier ways of keeping her sister’s memory alive.
The following day she sent me a txt message saying…
Hoping this true story inspires you to live the best life you can live, whilst you can ~ Anna