Welcome to Sunday Mourning, a weekly series about grief.
Today is my 39th birthday and I spent the morning sitting on my patio writing in my journal and reflecting on the last year. Birthdays are always hard for me. No matter how festive or sweet or quiet or loud, something always feels to be missing. I always feel a strange sort of embarrassment or shame or melancholy and I know that all of this has to do with not having the two people who brought me into this world.
Some years are harder than others and this morning I was thinking about why. I realized that the years in which I didn't feel melancholy were the years in which I spent my birthday in service of some kind. This realization led me to thinking about the bigger concept of being in service. It was a couple of years after my father died when I found myself working in helping capacities - working with underserved school kids, then with the homeless, after that in hospice, and now in private practice as a grief counselor. Every single day I talk to people who are hurting, people who are lost, and people who feel alone. Every single day I work to step out of my way and give something of myself to the people I talk to.
This is the number one thing that has led me out of my grief and pain. Finding a way to feel useful and purposeful in the world, making meaning out of tragedy, and giving what I can of myself, has changed my life. If you are grieving right now, or even just in pain of some kind, I recommend spending an hour or two, or even more, doing things for other people. I promise that those couple of hours will be the ones during your week that glow with peace and love.
There are no quick fixes to grief. It's a long process with ups and downs, but the two things that I know that actually provide relief from the suffering are meditation and finding ways to be of service. If you're grieving right now and you haven't tried these things, give them a shot. I promise they'll ease some of your pain.
Tell me about your experience of loss in the comments below. And tag someone you know who is grieving and let them know you are thinking about them. #sundaymourningseries