Almost everyone has heard the saying, “When life sends you lemons, make lemonade.” In 2007, I received a bushel-full of lemons: the death of my daughter, death of my father-in-law, death of my brother and only sibling, death of my former son-in-law, and becoming guardian of 15-year-old grandchildren.
Six years have passed since I suffered these multiple losses. Now I’m able to see my recovery journey more clearly. To be honest, I’ve surprised myself. Where did the courage come from? How did I make lemonade?
First, I made a conscious decision to choose happiness. At my age and stage of life, I knew happiness was a choice, not an accident. Death was not going to defeat me and life was going to be the winner. Raising my grandchildren was my new life mission, a mission my husband shared. At the time, neither my husband nor I knew raising grandkids would tug us out of grief and push us towards the future.
I made lemonade by accepting emotional pain, and it was crushing. Pain seeped into every thought, every limb, every bone, every cell. Yet deep in my soul, I knew my recovery journey started with pain. It wasn’t an easy starting place, yet was a place to “park” for a while. Meditation, prayer, and quiet helped me cope with the pain of grief, and I think they will help you.
I made quiet time part of each day. When someone we love dies, we tend to avoid silence because we don’t want to be alone with our thoughts. Truth is, we can never outrun grief and it will find us sooner or later. Silence helped me find the answers to questions, identify the action steps I needed to take, and craft a new ife. In the silence I found a wellspring of strength to draw upon again and again.
Writing was my first action step and, like grandparenting, it pushed me towards the future. When people ask me how I became happy again, my first answer is “writing.” If you’re overwhelmed by grief now, I hope you will write in a journal, write poetry, or a book about your journey. Affirmation-writing may also help you.
Speaking about loss, grief, and grief recovery was another way I made lemonade. I’ve spoken to church groups, service groups, regional and national conferences. You may be at a point in your grief journey when you’re able to share your story. Stories link us together and give us strength. My speaking experiences have led to new friendships and I treasure every one.
Making lemonade also meant I was going to enjoy the miracle of my life. I’m alive and still have time to do some of the things I want to do. The greatest joy of my life, other than marrying my husband and having two daughters, has been watching my grandchildren grow into responsible, caring, motivated adults. They are finishing their junior years in college and my husband and I plan to be at their graduations.
Your lemonade recipe may differ from mine. Instead of writing, you may join a support group, read books about grief reconciliation and recovery, participate in blogs, take a course, attend a conference, or join a national organization, such as The Compassionate Friends. Though our recipes differ, making lemonade means you’re doing your grief work and taking care of yourself.
Let’s make lemonade together!
Copyright 2013 by Harriett Hodgson