I Chose to Grow
By Angela Trent
I began my grief journey at the age of 26 when I lost my mom to liver cancer. It was my first real experience with death, and I was devastated. She was only 47. I did not believe that I could exist here without her. My world stopped, and I allowed sorrow to swallow me whole. I either didn’t sleep for days or I slept all of the time. Food seemed insignificant. I wailed, cried and sobbed relentlessly. My husband felt helpless and my sweet little boy, who was just turning two, needed me to find my way out of the darkness.
I knew I had to find a way.
I reached out to a grief group in hopes of finding a foothold. I took my first steps of growth within the safety of so much love. It was a small group, but the connection was strong and it helped to know that I was not alone. My group encouraged me to write again and that became a sort of therapy for me. I began to share my pain and found that I was helping others by sharing my experiences. My compassion had blossomed to a new level. I had taken a leap towards healing.
Then my daughter blessed our lives. That was simultaneously the saddest moment and the most joyful moment of my life, since my mom had died. My mom was not there as she had been for my son’s birth, but when I held my little girl in my arms, I felt her sweet spirit fill me with hope. Hope that the future offered more than hurt and brokenness. Hope that I could climb out of my hole of despair and live again. Laugh again. Love again.
And I did.
Ten years later, my brother died after being involved in a motorcycle accident. Again, my world was shattered. All of the familiar, bitter shards of grief pricked at me and ripped my heart in two. All of the stitches I had put into place popped. I could feel the shroud of sorrow slowly being pulled over me once again.
I knew that I did not want to revisit that dismal trench of depression. I knew how difficult it was to ascend the first time and I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough to do it again.
So I chose to change my perspective.
I had learned how to be here without my mom, and I would learn how to be here without my brother as well. I would find a way to honor his life through mine. He was only 40 when he died, but he packed a lot of living into those years. The last thing he would want me to do is to waste one minute of my life.
I forged on, grieving but not losing myself in the process. In fact, just the opposite. Somehow, despite the misery, as I sifted through the wreckage, I found myself. I found that strength comes from taking one step at a time, even when you cannot see the path in front of you. I found that life offers no guarantees. I found that moments are precious. I found that death births compassion, empathy, love and growth, if you allow it to. I discovered that there is always a choice.
I chose to grow.
Angela Trent lives in Michigan and can be found on Facebook.