I was listening to a podcast tonight. A friend sent me the link four months ago. It sort of got lost in my inbox.
It was about a woman who had been through the same sort of tragedy as I. Her husband died two and a half years ago.
She said some really good stuff.
She talked about the fact that she was a perky, positive, happy person before her husband passed away. The interviewer asked her if she lost that. She said, “No. I have it. I just continually walk by this deep, dark rabbit hole that I know I can fall into at any given time. But when I do, I climb to the top and someone grabs my hand and pulls me back out.” She talked about how before she avoided boredom and sadness and anxiety, that she spent her life running from those things. And now, she embraces those emotions. That she now understands that those emotions allow her to live a more full life, to be more understanding and compassionate than she ever thought she could be. She sort of implied that the harder emotions compliment the happier ones.
She described how her life has taken a disastrous, tragic, beautiful turn. How contradictory. Can sadness really bring about beauty, strength and fulfillment? Isn’t it supposed to break you down? Isn’t it, by nature, the killer of joy?
If done right, I believe that going through massive loss, heart wrenching grief can give you insights, can help you view life, can help you personally grow in ways that you never could have before. In so many ways, like the interviewee, I am unrecognizable to myself. I am not the same man who lost his wife five years ago. I feel more deeply, the bad AND the good. I have more hope for what lies ahead, in this life and the next. I am less uptight and fearful about the future.
Utter sadness and despair is awful. It hurts like hell. It can take you to some very dark places. And then, after the worst is over, it can turn you into something whole. Something that is deeper and richer than you could possibly have been without it.