Yesterday would have been my father's 65th birthday, and in a very real way it still is. Even though he passed years ago, the strength of his spirit and love carries on.
When we carry the people we've loved in our hearts, in our conversations, and into the work we do and the actions we take, we bring them forward and allow them to not only be an element in our lives still, but to make an impact.
In that same way, they bring us forward, toward them.
We do this thing, together.
We rebuild, together.
It's not about letting go of the pain and accepting only the beauty. It is about making room for both, for everything, because it is all part of who you've become and where you're going.
Letting go of the notion that once death knocks on someone's door, that's the end for them -- this is a powerful thing.
When someone we love dies, that is not the end for them. It doesn't have to be.
Not only their memory, but their impact can live on through our decisions and our rituals, through all the ways we give other people pieces of our hearts.
Their influence can ride on the wave of our compassion and our courage to do what's right, what they would have done.
We can live in such a way that would make them proud to call us their own.
We can love in all the ways they loved us.
We can leave our mark on the world, together.
We can draw strength from our wounds and offer that strength back to the people we see struggling. That is a great service, a way we honor the ones we cannot see.
Life after loss is rich with grief and struggle which, if we let them, will carry us into a kinship with nature, with our own bodies and beating hearts, with other people navigating life after loss.
The source of our grief is perhaps not a beautiful thing.
The choices we make following the tragedies of our lives -- these can be things of beauty, of bravery, reflections of the love we still hold, portals for our loved ones to shine their "them-ness."
We can make our choices with them present in our minds. We can wonder how they might handle a difficult situation, or which book they would choose from the shelf, or how they would love to see the decorations on the Christmas tree.
We can rebuild our traditions from scratch or from the pieces of the old that we'd like to keep.
We can rebuild our lives the same way.
We can break what needs to be broken and let go of the idea that a broken heart is a damaged one. We can embrace the idea that a heart broken open is one radical step in a different direction, one that's worth exploring.
My dad told me a long time ago that "we rebuild, together."
His words are still alive in all the cells of my body, even those cells that have been destroyed and replaced since his death. That is how strong this kind of love is.
His words pushed me to keep writing even when his death threatened to steal any motivation I had to go on.
It's why I made an art print of his words, which you can buy here. To honor the person who was constantly championing me and what I loved.
I have chosen to carry forward his appreciation of being alive in the morning. The way he kept a silliness about him. The mental toughness that was his true strength.
If you'd like to share, I'd love to know:
What of your loved one's have you chosen to carry forward, and make a bigger part of your life now?
Tell me in the comments.
Everything you share here means more than you could know.
With love and warmth,
P.S. Want words like these in your inbox? Sign up for Tuesday emails and you'll also get my Healing Brave Manifesto (plus weekly giveaways) totally free.