Living My Best Life Alongside Loss
Updated: May 11
By Theresa Anthony, author of Hope Springs from a Mother's Broken Heart
I am definitely a creature of habit, which means you can pretty much set your clock to my daily routine. One of those habits is my daily walk. As a dog mama for the past twenty-six years, I have diligently walked my succession of beloved pups on a daily basis. My current doggy is a young coonhound named Morgan who requires two, count them, two brisk walks per day.
This daily habit of walking has many benefits, for the dog and for me. Not only does walking keep us both healthy and fit, but these twenty-minute jaunts also provide much needed time for prayer and reflection.
It was while on a recent dog walk that I wound up chasing a train of thought that started when noting how blissfully happy I am here in my new home state of Tennessee. Well, that launched a convoluted succession of thoughts that meandered up and down and back and forth through the emotional journey I’ve been on these past nine-plus years. The truth is, it has been a rough ride. Really rough.
Chances are, anyone reading this right now has experienced at least one devastating loss in their lives. Of course, no one walking around on this planet is exempt from the harsh reality of losing a loved one, much as we’d all love to hide away in a cocoon of denial.
If you are lucky enough to have lived a few decades without losing a beloved family member or friend, it just means you were blessed with a nice long grace period, so please do enjoy it. Eventually, however, the piper must be paid because we humans are mortal, dang it.
Most folks who follow my blog already know my sad story. Various degrees of loss have been woven like sharp razor wire through the tapestry of my life for a good long while. Unusual losses, untimely losses. I won’t bore you with the list, just suffice it to say that I’ve had to learn how to continue living right alongside some very profound losses…kinda like parallel train tracks.
On one track is the joyful, fulfilling life I have carved out for myself these past several years. But right next to it is the reality-check-track that stubbornly insists on running right alongside my happy track. I try to veer off in a different direction, you know, to ditch it, but its deeply entrenched rails are stuck in a perfect parallel to the happy track.
I totally understand it when someone asks me how I manage to smile my way through the days after being blindsided by the losses of my precious son and my beautiful man, boom, boom, one right after the other. I get it. In fact, when I meet someone who has also suffered compound losses of this magnitude, I am in awe of their strength, too.
But guess what? The big secret to living a happy life after losing a loved one has not one darn thing to do with strength. Nope. Surviving these horrific events is much more about the choices you make. Ask yourself:
Do you choose to find joy in your surroundings?
Do you choose to have hope, to pray, and to believe in a loving God?
Do you choose to be there for your friends, family members, and surviving children?
Do you choose to focus more on your blessings than your losses?
Do you choose to spread your light to others, who may just need that smile?
Do you choose to take care of your health, your mental health, and even your teeth?
Do you choose to still seek out the things you are passionate about?
Do you choose to give your time or treasure to the less fortunate?
I think you get my drift. My son would be so sad if I stopped being the person I was before he left us that day in 2013. He would want me to keep living a life that is full of purpose and joy.
The same can be said for the amazing love of my life, lost to the ravages of leukemia at the age of only fifty-five. He would have never wanted me to miss out on experiencing happiness in my remaining years.
So, that parallel track, the icky one that I can’t seem to shake off, actually serves a vital purpose in my life. It reminds me every single day of how deeply I have loved and was loved, how much I have overcome, and how I must continue to choose joy – because that is what they would want from me.
Author's note: Please hit the heart button down below if you enjoyed this blog!
Order: Hope Springs from a Mother's Broken Heart
Order: My 13th Station
Pssst.... I am hard at work on book #3! Stay tuned.