As my senior year of college begins, and I think more about what I want to do with my life, I come back to grief. I've already written about my desire to become a grief counselor. This blog has been integral to my discovery of what I want to contribute to this world and how I want to live. Of course, I worry that I am incapable of helping other people when I am barely surviving each day but maybe this gives me a different perspective, maybe what I perceive as weakness is, in fact, my greatest strength. I can't pretend like I am okay. I can't erase the last seven years of grief and suffering and darkness. My wounds are still open for all to see but they're mine and they make me who I am.
I can't stop thinking about something Eleanor Longden said about trauma and healing:
There is no greater honor or privilege than facilitating that process of healing for someone. To bear witness, to reach out a hand, to share the burden of someone’s suffering, and to hold the hope for their recovery.
And likewise for the survivors of distress and adversity, that we remember that we don’t have to live our lives forever defined by the damaging things that have happened to us. We are unique, we are irreplaceable. What lies within us can never be truly colonized, contorted, or taken away. The light never goes out.
(thanks to madness-narrative)
These words not only give me strength, they articulate my life's mission: to reach out to others and offer kindness, compassion, and support in times of crisis. I want to help others cope with loss; I want to help them grieve and mourn and live. I want to prevent another child from being as terrified and destroyed as I was in the aftermath of my father's death. For years, I had no access to counseling, and I know it would have made a difference for me early on. I can't make promises to anyone; I can't save them or heal them. What I can do is hold their hand and remind them that they are not alone. How startling that my father's absence would affirm my own presence, would make me more real to myself and more open to others. I want to be there for someone else, present with them and their pain and their loss. That's what I must do. I've never been more sure of anything in my life.