Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Transformation Isn't What It Is Cracked Up To Be

My grief counselor recently told me that a positive aspect of grief, if there can be one, is that in surviving it, one becomes transformed. You become a more in-depth person, introspective, kind, understanding, compassionate. She quickly added that she knew I would trade all the inner-growth and wisdom in a heartbeat to have my husband back.

A similar variation on this theme came from the asst. principal at the boys' new school. He said that living through challenging circumstances is what adds the substance and dimension to our character. He was saying that ultimately the boys will benefit from the painful and tragic lessons of their childhood in becoming better, more well-rounded men and citizens of the world.

I certainly get the belief in this but am not sure it really matters or that I care anymore. It doesn't seem that those of us who have had a more difficult path to travel get any special tickets to heaven or have to pay lower taxes. We still have to muddle through life with more on our shoulders beside all of those who have fewer burdens. I am not sure what any of this inner wisdom has gotten me. So I am more compassionate and kind. In the end what does it all really matter anyway?

We walk in a crowd of others and no one can see what is inside us. How we look on the outside provides no clue to all the transformation that has gone on within.


  1. you are so down and i am so very familiar with this anguish. grief does transform. but so does fire. it burns and hurts and the agony of the transformation is evident. as for the crowd of others who may or may not see what is inside. pooh pooh on them. i have been "transformed" into someone who no longer cares what others think, even if it's positive. they have no more power over me than i allow. all that matters is what you think of yourself, the belief you have in you. "a hero (insert here survivor) is someone who hangs on one moment longer." you keep hanging on so it is in you to survive. you know you will survive because it is you who makes the choice to survive. do it for yourself if for no other reason than to see how the story ends.

    and yes, your sons are going through a trial by fire as well. the sooner they see that they need to choose to survive on their own as sentient human beings, the stronger they will become and the more choices they will have open up to them. they will become men who are in control of their own lives. i've seen it happen and those children became wonderful people the crowds would be honored to know.

    i wish you peace. i wish you a resolution that pleases you. i hope i have not offended or hurt your feelings. i simply wish you had more help from those closest to you as i had and still do from my own children.

  2. Compounding all that you are already reeling from is the boys reluctance to leave what they see as their "safe" enviroment. I echo the sentiments that womanNshadows speaks of. I can also understand your feelings of "what the heck" reactions to transforming. Right now all you want to do is survive and all that other stuff is psychobabble. Yes, it may be true, but right here and now, you need some relief. That doesn't make your decision any easier, but tough choices are just that tough. I do wish you comfort and peace, and I know that is a while off yet -- but it shall come. Sam is in your corner and he will help you and the boys adapt to your new surroundings and it will be good to have safe shelter over your head, and the boys heads and no need to worry about the next meal and things will get better.

  3. It matters in that what you have gone through and the compassion and kindness you have gained because of it might make a difference in someone else's life one day. One day you might have the opportunity to be the person who says, "I know. I've been there. Life sucks sometimes. But I made it, and so can you." You could be the one to hold your light up to help someone else through their hell and darkness. And - in my opinion - that is an incredibly valuable gift that you could possess, because we all need those people who've "been there" and who understand.

    - Jenny

  4. Somedays I share your sentiments completely,but let me share with you a tiny bit about my story...
    about a year ago I felt compelled to start an on-line grief support site based on my experience through the grieving process and some amazing synchronicities that happened to get me there. Am I transformed from my experience? No, but I bet you would agree that death does teach you about life and so what I have to share is about "real life" stuff that happens and how to deal with it.

    You have an unique ability to write & share on this blog - does it matter? HELL YES it matters, you matter and obviously people care about what you have to say.

    I have those days when I wonder does anyone care what I have to say, and then I get an email from someone saying how much they enjoyed a post or how much they liked a quote or whatever, but you get the point.

    Our experiences in life do transform us into who we are each and everyday, and trust me everything matters, including your compassionate, caring heart.

    thanks for your blog posts.

    JoAnne Funch

  5. Thank you everyone for YOUR insight and kindness that you are thoughtful enough to pass onto me during this tough time of transition and what I suppose I will come to look upon as transformation.

    wNs - You never offend me. I value all the words you offer on your posts and in your comments.

    Debra - I wish decisions didn't have to be so tough. Having had to make so many on my own the past years I am just tapped out. I like what you said about comfort and peace being off in the future. We need to remember that when we're in the thick of it.

    Jenny - Your words are beautiful and encouraging. To be a light in someone's darkness would be a gift of true compassion and hope.

    JoAnne - I think we have learned more about life than the "untouched." You have reminded all of us that somehow, all of this matters.

  6. People like to tell others going through a really difficult time that "what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger"--I always hated hearing that. Shit--sometimes I just wish it would kill me--seems it would be easier.

  7. "We walk in a crowd of others and no one can see what is inside us. How we look on the outside provides no clue to all the transformation that has gone on within."

    This is SO true -- thank you for your insight.

  8. Jude - You made me laugh!

    Anonymous - I'm glad something I thought about connected with you.