I remember reading a beautiful piece by a woman I admire very much – Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, written shortly after the sudden death of her husband Dave, on coping with the death of her spouse.
In her article, she mentions about an incident after Dave’s death where she had to come up with a back-up option to fill in for her late husband, at an activity at her children’s school. Telling a friend how she didn’t want ‘Option B’, her friend, in an attempt to comfort her, put an arm around her and said “Well, since option A isn’t available, let’s just kick the hell out of Option B’
And like it hopefully inspired Sheryl, this statement also sent a light-bulb in my head.
This happens so many times – to me, you, in our personal and professional lives. We have our heart set on one thing – our BIG plan. We do everything in our abilities for it. We dream of achieving it , of conquering something we very much coveted. And then something happens, and it all comes crashing down.
Alternatively, it could also be that it was something you always had, but never thought you would lose – a tangible object, a person, anything. And then one day, it all gets taken away from you.
Yes it was unfair. It shouldn’t have happened. But that is when you realize one of the harshest truths of life – that life as a whole, is unfair. And then you have to make a choice – either to give in to the pain of the loss, or pick yourself up, put yourself together, and move forward.
Undoubtedly, and more often than not, it’s natural to give in the first choice, mostly because the pain of loss is often greater than the optimism of what the future holds. And there are multiple ways of how people choose to express themselves. Some cry. Some crib, and complain. Some get frustrated. And there are some who let the pain consume them, physically and emotionally.
But there are some, who despite the the loss, choose not to let themselves get destroyed in the aftermath. They know that it will never be the same again, but they also know that life, despite it’s complexities, hardships and struggles, goes on. And that it is in these very phases that, you will need to pull out strength from your innermost self, but it is that very strength that will help you find happiness again.
And that what’s make them survivors, heroes and inspirational figures, for anyone who’s survived a storm will tell you, that moments and incidents like these are an ultimate test of your patience, courage and tenacity.
This reminds me of a quotation from Rudyard Kipling’s “If you meet Triumph and Disaster, and treat those imposters all the same”, along with something my mother once told me, “Life is a test of your ability to face the sunshine, and the rain, all at once”. Yes, it takes a lot, in the phase of grief, pain and loss to pick up the pieces and smile. But that’s where you need to make a choice – Would you like to spend the rest of your days lamenting the loss of option A, or would you rather pick up option B, and kick the blood shit out of it?
Do I have an answer? I think I do!
(This piece of writing is dedicated to Sheryl Sandberg, someone I have admired ever since I read ‘Lean In’. Her spirit, courage and never-say-die attitude never, ever fails to inspire me.)