Personal Development Stress

How To Live in a Heartbreaking World

Every day there is another news story that devastates me. Fires and floods, hurricanes and earthquakes, and more recently – senseless, heartbreaking destruction of the human variety. How can we live every day in this world that breaks our hearts? In a world that has become increasingly unstable and frightening, how do we let our children go out into the world, how do we ourselves risk living fully?

We must go into this world armed with faith and love. And only faith and love. This is a terrifying suggestion, I know. But the one thing we can control in an uncontrollable world, the only thing we can control, is how we show up to it. We can do nothing more. It is the most important action we can take, to bring love to hate, to bring love to fear, to bring love to loss. It is only love that will heal.

How do I know this? Because I’ve stood in the rain and howled with grief at the ways this world has broken my heart. I’ve watched my brother die and let it break me wide open. Then a year later, I watched my mother die and broke open once more. The trick is to let your heart break open – not to break down, not to break up, or to break closed but to break open. This world can break you, no doubt about it, but if you break open, you are stronger than ever and able to hold all the grief and love that life delivers to you.

To let my heart break open, I had to walk into the center of my pain. I had to be there with it, in the dark of the night, in the aching early hours of the morning when I was most tormented by it, I had to surrender to what I felt. I cried. I raged. I cried some more. I let my pain move through me. And I brought love to that pain. Because the source of my pain was love. I lost people that I loved and the only cure for my grief was more love. I invited my friends in, I talked to therapists, I went to grief groups, I let the love I had for my mother and my brother carry me. It was all I could do. To love and to keep loving.

It’s all I can do now, in this heartbreaking world, to love and to keep loving. We must love ourselves and one another more fiercely than ever. To live in a world that is frightening, we must commit small acts of love and faith every day. Today, I sent my children to school, with faith that they would be alright, with words and acts of love. It’s all I can do. It’s everything I must do. What about you? What acts of love and faith light your way in the dark days? Let’s connect and carry each other with all the love we can.

4 Comment

  1. Sometimes I think we allow that 1 day of trauma/pain to become the meaning of our loved one, when in fact it’s not. Everyday I was living the pain over & over. I now choose to not re-live that painful moment when I lost my son & to remember him for a legacy of love & who he was. Once I realized pain does not equal love, I began to heal. Love=Love

    1. Hi Shelly, thanks for sharing that – it is so wise, and it can be so challenging – the pain sticks with us and haunts us. It’s so true that the love is where we need to focus – love=love – brilliant and so true. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Beautifully written, Stephanie, as always.

    I love the personal examples you give that show how you allow grief to be and to be expressed through you. North American white folks, in particular, seem to have difficulty accepting and allowing our feelings to come forward. Somehow there’s a sense of shame or barriers we use to hold feelings in. The self-inflicted message that we’re not supposed to be so emotional is nonsense. I learned a lot about honoring one’s whole being and emotions from a community I spent time with. I can still hear the counsel to “honor your feelings.” We do need each other to hold one another through the good times and challenging times. Most importantly, learning true self-acceptance for the range of experiences we have and lessons learned seems to be our life’s work.

    As you know, with all the upsetting news and direction the world is headed, it can feel overwhelming. I choose to be as active as possible supporting agencies and organizations that align with my values. I choose to speak up and share news of concerns as well as victories. I honor my family heritage of activism and pay attention to balance. Primarily, I know that love is the eternal gift that ultimately overcomes the darkness.

    Thanks for sharing your writings with us. You’re a very talented person and a joy to know.

    1. Helen, thank you for your wise words and positive feedback – I really appreciate all you bring to the world in so many ways, including this comment.

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