I'm currently a junior in college and, for the last three years, I've been struggling with the question of what to do after I graduate. The trauma of my past has made it almost impossible for me to even think about the future without dreading it. Since the death of my father, I've had no direction, no purpose, no belief that my life could even go forward when all I wanted was to be with him again. Maybe on an unconscious level I thought that planning for the future was a betrayal of my past with him, that living without him meant he didn't mean all that much to me. I know none of this is true, but these are the thoughts that consume me. I've had to give myself permission to survive.
I want to live my life in a way that honors him. I want to contribute something to the world. I've said it many times to many people but it bears repeating: my suffering connects me with every other human being. Our losses are all different and unique and deeply personal but the one commonality we share is that we lose what we love most. Those of you who have faced it often wonder how you survived. Those of you who haven't lost a loved one yet live in fear of the day when the unimaginable will happen. I've been there and being there has given me empathy, understanding, and compassion.
That is why I intend to pursue a career as a grief counselor. I've thought about this for some time, wondered if I could actually make it happen and now I know that it is possible. After speaking to a lovely woman at my university's career services center, I feel confident that I can begin the process of exploring the field and one day help people cope with loss, grief, and trauma.
It's hard to explain what I feel right now. In the middle of a dark and terrible time in my life, I feel hopeful. This is the beginning of something, the beginning of life, a rebirth.