How to avoid the “Why Me” trap

avoid the why me trapMost of us pound on the door of “Why?” or “Why Me?” when a loved one exits the earthly plane.

I’ve been there, done that. I was that record needle stuck in the groove of “Why?” when my mother passed away three years go.

“Why me?”

“Why Amma?”

“Why eight months after we moved to this new country?”

The door called “Why?” that we relentlessly hammer on continues to remain firmly shut. Our frustrated voices are lost in the wilderness of grief.

Grief is a contracted state. It is tunnel vision of the worst kind. But there is a bright pinpoint of light that will lead us out of the darkness, should we choose to follow it. It is when we turn the “Why?” into “What?” that the door begins to swing open, ever so gently.

Ask what you’re meant to learn from this experience of loss. The truth is, no experience on the human journey is wasted. There is meaning in every suffering–if we care to look deeply enough. When we start to search for the meaning behind the suffering, things start to shift. What seems to have fallen apart begins to rearrange itself within us. As the great Hassidic master Reb Dov Ber of Mezrich says, “Sometimes we have to sift through the ashes to find a single spark.”

MADD (Moms Against Drunk Driving) is a perfect example. It all started with one heartbroken mom and her fire to make the tragedy count for something bigger. That tragedy was the death of her 13-year-old daughter who was killed by a drunk driver. 32 years later, MADD is a voice for victims and survivors of drunk driving.

Richard Carlson’s (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff) widow Kris Carlson authored Heartbroken Open and now has a Heartbroken Open Online support group, a circle meant to connect people in grief.

As the high tides of grief begin to ebb, we circle back to the “meaning hidden in the painful event.” The meaning we open to doesn’t have to be grand or global. It can be a simple desire to serve. Maybe, bring a few moments of joy to someone who’s lonely. Or volunteer at the local food pantry.  In reaching out and moving beyond our own brokenness, we discover a profound truth: we’re not alone. Everyone out there is carrying their own cross. So the myth of “Why Me?” explodes and shatters. And in finding the common thread that connects us all, we try to live from the space of “We” not “Me.”

What does this meaning look like in your life? Do you have more wisdom and compassion? Are you more grateful for life’s precious moments? Do you appreciate your breath a little more? Have you resolved to follow your dreams before its too late?

I invite you to post the “meanings” you’ve come to in the face of your personal loss.

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