Purpose: Finding Renewed Hope in the New Year
By Theresa Anthony
What a difference a week makes! One week ago I was mired in a month-long funk. A really, awful, dark bout of the blues that came out of nowhere in late November. That is the thing about the mysterious grief journey… it has a life of its own. Just when the sunlight peeks through the clouds and you pick up some positive steam to move forward some unexpected trigger flares up and rains on your parade.
And then, just like that about five days ago I felt the gray fog lifting and now here I sit smiling at the brand new year ahead. Just looking at my iPhone home screen at the calendar app with a big fat number 1 on it made me pause and say a little prayer for the year ahead. Day 1 of 2020… what do you Will for me this year, Lord?
So today I want to write about tackling the New Year ahead with a positive and productive mindset and a heart open to giving and receiving love. I know that many who read my blogs have also lost, or know someone who lost, a loved one or beloved child. These folks know how grief and loss can present some formidable obstacles to achieving the goals we set. However, although grief is a powerful emotion that has the potential to keep us trapped in the sad feelings of loss, it doesn’t have to be that way.
It may be hard for others to imagine, how one can move forward after losing a child, but somehow God gives us the grace and strength to not only move forward but to thrive. Here are some examples of other strong women, who I count among my friends, and how they are using their losses to serve others and honor their loved one:
· Gina is an amazing woman who lost her 9 year-old son to a rare disease, ripping him away from her arms in a few months time from diagnosis to the end of his short life. Gina has inspired me immensely! Soon after losing her boy she started a non-profit foundation promoting organ donations, in hopes of saving other children from ALD. She created Grieving Mommas, a mother’s grief group on Facebook that provides a safe and supportive space for us moms to share the feelings of loss and dreadful pain that accompany the passing of a child. She has pushed herself physically to accomplish amazing fitness goals, and now heads up her own health and wellness enterprise that combines her culinary expertise along with her fitness guru business partner. Her next goal is to open a practice as an integrative health care advocate. Whew!
· Jodi is a warrior on fire to help end the horror of opioid addiction and overdoses after losing her own beautiful son at the age of 19 to this scourge. She has produced and directed four informative documentaries and distributes these widely nationwide to school districts and community events to help educate students and parents about the dangers of prescription medications. Jodi has supported state legislation AB 2760 to promote the availability of life-saving naloxone, as well as advocated for SB 11, which expands availability of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). She has also travelled to Washington D.C. to participate in rallies, joining other grieving parents in marches to promote awareness and meeting with legislators. On a daily basis, Jodi works tirelessly to help those who desire treatment to obtain it.
· Margie is another wounded mother who lost her precious 22 year-old son to a heroin overdose a day before he was to enter rehab. Margie has channeled her grief in an amazing way by starting up a support group for other parents whose child is either battling addiction or has been lost to this horror. The group meetings, which I have attended, are populated with a couple of dozen parents who share their pain and their fears in immensely soulful and transparent ways. The group differs from Al-anon in that it encourages discussion among the parents, providing a wonderful setting to gain mutual support. Recently, word got to a Los Angeles television station about Margie and her work, and has featured her in a segment along with Dr. Drew Pinsky in which they discuss the horrible drug epidemic that has devastated so many lives and families.
· Teri is a woman with an unlimited amount of compassion for suicide loss survivors and individuals lost to suicide. Teri knows this pain all too well, having lost two family members to suicide, and has channeled that grief into working with local youth. Launched with founder Pondo Vleisides, Teri and her team work grueling hours to grow a non-profit community organization that offers teens opportunities to participate in a wide range of cool activities at zero cost, including tennis lessons, guitar lessons, yoga classes, running clubs, fishing trips, music events, and Improv class. Her very heart and soul is invested in diverting teens away from unhealthy activities such as drug and alcohol abuse and towards wholesome recreational options.
These are just a few examples of women I know personally who have taken their grief and channeled it into amazingly productive causes in honor of their lost loved one. As I move into the New Year I hope to continue using their example to promote my book and get it into as many hands as possible. Writing the memoir has provided me with a way to use grief in a productive manner. By telling his story I can honor my own amazing son while also informing parents about the signs of distress that accompany mental illness and addiction, so that they do not lose their child to suicide as I did.
So yes, today, on January 1, 2020, I am feeling positive and hopeful for a blessed and productive New Year.
Author, My 13th Station, a memoir