Planes flying into buildings. Drunk drivers killing families. Cancer claiming another victim. Losing a friend to suicide. Nobody is immune to tragedy. When the unexpected strikes, we are often left with indescribable feelings of regret, remorse, sadness and helplessness.
“I should(n’t) have said that.” “I wish I would(n’t) have…” “I could(n’t) have…” “If only…”
These thoughts are natural. Despite our deep flaws and misgivings, we are beings created to love. When something is lost or taken away without warning or even with knowledge of its imminence, a part of us is wounded—we feel incomplete. If we did not have these feelings, we would have to question if there is something wrong with us. There are countless unknown outcomes to the thoughts of “if only…” To live in that loop of “what-if” scenarios is to not live at all.
However, even though we may not feel as though we have the strength to move on, we must not let ourselves be taken captive and drowned by grief and sorrow. Grieving a loss is cathartic. It’s respectful. It’s essential. But living under the weight of it all—not getting up from the floor, opening the door and stepping out into life—this is dangerously destructive and, quite honestly, selfish. Caging yourself up and curling into a ball because of the loss of someone is not the way they would want you to have reacted. It’s not the way they would want you to live. Don’t dishonor their memory by disengaging.
You cannot waste your life living in shame, remorse and regret. Use your memories and experiences—whether good or bad—as a foundational milestone by which to guide you in moving forward. If you’d made bad choices, use that remorse to then make good ones. If you wish you would have said something sooner, don’t let new opportunities slip by and do the same thing.
Yes, loss hurts. But find your gain in loss—use it to become the person you want to be; to do the things you want to do; to share the love you so desperately want to give.
We don’t know what tomorrow, this afternoon, or this hour will bring. Live deliberately. Love intentionally. Act purposefully.
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