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Day 2: Grief has much to teach us if we choose to listen

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Our nurse poked her head in to see how we were doing.

"I don't think she's breathing."

Just seconds before the door opened, I watched my mom take her last breath.

My word for this year is breathe. I didn't even realize the connection until I started to write this essay.

I typically choose my word for the year well ahead of the end of the year. Mom was in and out of the hospital so much of December I hadn't taken the time. Mom died on January 3. I chose my word for the year a few days later.

Grief is funny like that. It weaves itself into life without you even noticing.

Contrary to the popularity of the grief stages made popular in Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's 1969 book On death and dying I've come to understand grief as far more of a mindset issue, ala Carol Dweck.

In the Kubler-Ross model you're supposed to experience denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then, finally, acceptance.

My view of it as growth vs fixed mindset is an ongoing process of reflection and decision making. You either realize that you've allowed grief to stop or slow your growth - a fixed mindset. Your alternative is to try to integrate what you learn from grief and grow each day through those lessons.

I thought I was writing about breathing today. Grief had other lessons to teach me. I'm going to choose to keep listening to them.

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