This is a guest post by Malinda Shultice, an avid runner, life and grief blogger and classic novel reader. Malinda is currently obtaining her MPA and in the future hopes to help shape the young minds of future generations about life, health and the pursuit of happiness. Please visit her blog or facebook page.
It was a mere 10 days before my twenty-first birthday that I lost my child. I received unexpected news that she wasn’t going to survive her severe condition and realized quite quickly how fast life can change. One second I was a parent and in the next moment she was gone.
Naturally, I went through a traumatic grieving process experiencing depression, denial, anger and confusion just as any healthy human being does. But as time always does, it healed my wounds. Surprisingly, I even became a better person for the loss of my child.
First off, I became selfless. I wasn’t necessarily self-centered before, but drastically my life became geared toward making other’s lives easier. I threw myself into grief blogging and volunteering. Realizing that the world is filled with people going through traumatic experiences helped me to see that mine problems wouldn’t be the death of me. Doing any small, insignificant tasks, even holding the door for someone filled my heart back up.
I also became healthy, very healthy. My diet changed, I exercised regularly and it stopped feeling like a chore to me. On my really down days, running pulled me through the fog and helped me to see the light. Those minutes of solitude that left me alone with my thoughts were something that even therapy couldn’t have achieved.
My creativity was the next part of me to be unlocked. It was as if I had this inner artist and writer that had been lost in translation but had suddenly been reawakened. When I wrote my blogs, my heart poured onto the page. All of my emotions that had caused me distress for so long were suddenly put into words and I could understand myself on a deeper level. Losing myself in words helped to heal me from the inside out.
Lastly, I was no longer afraid to try new things, whether it be food, traveling to an exotic place or reading an eccentric novel. Nothing seemed scary to me anymore. The sky was the limit and still is. My desire to live life fully has enveloped me and I live everyday as if it is my last.
Looking back at my journey, what I experienced and still go through today is post-traumatic growth, a term coined by psychologist Richard Tedeschi. People experiencing great loss not only persevere, but may also lead a more meaningful life than ever before. In the midst of our grief we find a way to make the world around us better so that others don’t have to suffer as we did. I have found great solace in this. My life direction changed immensely and I want to raise awareness about my daughter’s disease so that other families never have to experience what I did.
People always say that life is short and unpredictable, but until something stops you in your tracks and forces you to realize it, it is hard to fathom. But even in those painful moments, the best advice I can give is to live fully and without restriction. A better you may be waiting on the other side of the shadows.