I recently read a quote from Queen Latifah that said, “I think the most important thing I've learned from the death of my brother, is to not stop living. As my Aunt Elaine says, 'You never get over it but you get through it.' I know for a fact that my brother would not want me to stay right there, stuck in that misery. If the person who you lost loved you like you loved them, there's no way they would not want you to live your life to the maximum, to appreciate it, to go for your dreams, go for your goals."
Queen Latifah speaks the truth. Every sentiment is something that has been expressed in my grief support group. We know that our loved one would not want us to be sad, yet we do not know how to get to that place of joy once again. Each day seems to bring new struggles as we try to assimilate back into a world that is no longer the same. We shop at the same stores, go to the same job and do all of the same things we always did, yet none of it is the same. Our personal world has changed, even if the external world has not. It is this disconnect between who we were and who we are now that creates this internal conflict inside of us. We wonder if we will ever feel happy again, if we will ever be able to run simple errands without crying and if we will be able to find any joy in family gatherings.
Grief is the one experience that does not discriminate. Rich or poor, famous or not – all hearts ache when a loved one has died. Queen Latifah had to grieve on a public stage where people watched to see how she handled her pain. Her words send a clear message to everyone who grieves: life does go on and we make the choice as to how we will live it. We can become bitter and depressed or we can work our way towards a life filled with meaning and with happiness. It is what our loved one would want for us. They would not want us to hurt day after day. It is because they loved us so deeply that they would want only the best for us and would never want to cause us pain.
Grief changes us, but that does not mean the change has to be for the worse. We can take this pain and transmute it into something beautiful and meaningful. We can begin to realize that life is short and we do not know when our days will end, so we must embrace each opportunity to live fully. In their memory we can accomplish goals that we might not have been able to do on our own. Their love propels us further than we thought possible. We can live fully and contribute to the world by embracing our passions and our talents and bringing them forward without fear. We can live in such a way that our presence here has made a positive impact on others. And isn’t that what life is really all about?
Nancy Weil is a leading authority on humor and grief. She serves as Director of Grief Support for eleven cemeteries and is a Certified Funeral Celebrant and Grief Management Specialist. Through her company, The Laugh Academy, she offers products to ease the stress and pain that grief can bring. Bandages for Your Heart on DVD or CD, Laugh for the Health of It on CD and her new book, If Stress Doesn’t Kill You, Your Family Might, can be ordered by clicking here.
Top Image: Queen Latifah poses in New York on Sept. 26, 2007. (AP Photo/Jim Cooper)