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On Why I'm Still Alive


People try hard to make sense of our losses. It's what people do to try to comfort or provide solace, to understand that which cannot be understood.


So they often tell me, "Look what you've done with your life," implying there was some meaning in her death. Then, they share empty platitudes like, "She's in a better place," or something about a Creator's plan, or "Everything happens for a reason..."


But, there’s no “better place” for my child to be than in my arms, and I can’t  imagine this is “God’s plan.”  There’s no good enough reason my child died.  But there is a reason I’m alive.  And I’ll live that life to honor my child.“


Compassion for others, when I was ready to rise from my knees and stand again, was one of the few things that helped keep my heart open toward a world where those we so deeply love can- and do- die. 


I want her back though.  And so nothing satiated that strong pull toward her presence.  Nor should it.  


And instead of barricading my heart behind a wall of false safety, instead of numbing out with drugs or drink or TV or junk food or mindless consumerism, I fully inhabited the grief until I knew it so intimately that I could hear it speaking to me.  


And this is what it said: "Nothing in this world would fill the hole that belonged only to her.  Nothing would ever justify her absence in my life. And yet, it said, here you are, your own heart still beating, your own life continuing."


"Make good use of this pain," grief whispered. "Not to make sense of why she died.  But to make sense of why you’re still alive."

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