I found that quote by Gracie Allen on a magnet about a year after my husband Saul died next to me in a tragic car accident. During the early, acute grieving years, I would read it on my refrigerator door and cry, because there were moments that I felt that my life had now ended. I was so burdened by troubles: surgeries resulting from the accident, financial challenges, family issues, loneliness, unscrupulous business people I had to deal with, and more, that every so often I thought about giving up and caving in.
So why didn’t I? The first reason was my son. As I was pulled by an EMT through the shattered window of my totaled car, I made a pledge to myself that I would somehow survive this proverbial grenade that had hit my life. I knew that I had to role model survival and resilience for my son. He was only 21 and Saul had been buried on his birthday. I was not the only one who was suffering and there was no way that I was going to saddle my son with another devastating loss in his young life.
Another reason I hung in was the guidance of a fantastic life transition coach I had started working with. She encouraged me to begin to explore ways my life could have meaning without Saul physically in it.
I found my way to a new philanthropy that was forming and became a Founding Board Member of Good Grief, an organization dedicated to providing peer support for children who had suffered the loss of parents, siblings, and grandparents in their lives. This gave me purpose and comfort and it drew my attention away from my own troubles to focus on helping these children of all ages, from tender toddlers to young adults in their 20’s.
The third reason that I hung in was my mom. We had been estranged for many years and now we were widows together with the opportunity to build a new, special, meaningful relationship between us.
And the fourth reason was my book, They Serve Bagels in Heaven (show link). It was providing significant support and comfort to others like me who were grieving. And it was giving me a vehicle for expressing “my truth,” which was extremely important to me as my voice had been suppressed in my youth. I was beginning to grow and evolve in ways I could never have imagined before the accident. Today my son is the father of two special young boys who I adore, with one more on the way. My grandsons fill my heart, and it is touching to see how happy and resourceful my son and daughter-in-law are together. I’ve also observed that my son is quite adaptable when facing challenges.
Could it be that he learned this trait from me? I will never ever forget my son saying to me, “Mom, there has been nothing worse than seeing you in total despair and nothing better than seeing you be able to experience joy again.” Even though I am no longer an active Board Member of Good Grief, I still honor its mission. And I am humbled and grateful to know that people are continuing to derive comfort and solace from the work I am doing during the online events, radio interviews and personal appearances related to my book (show link) and my podcast Grief and Rebirth (show link). This summer, it was my pleasure to coordinate a Family Reunion in honor of my mom who is now 93 years old. Her admirable strength of character rests on a reservoir of humor that is lauded by all who know and love her. She makes everyone smile and laugh. And she continues to savor her life.
Like Gracie said, “Never place a period where God has placed a comma.” What a Blessing for me and those I love that I came upon that magnet and took Gracie’s wise advice.