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My mother-in-law’s death left me pleading to the universe. Here is how it responded.

Allow me to recite all the wonderful things that have happen in the last few years before breaking your heart… I became a newly married, first time homeowner. I started teaching yoga, exploring all methods of wellness and mindful moment, became a women’s coach and embraced all things anti-anxiety. I’ve traveled all around the world with friends and loved ones, paid off my student loans, and now live happily ever after with my husband, our mastiff, and our German shepherd. But there’s one thing that keeps me down on the sunniest of days.

Through all this joy, good luck, preparation, and alignment came the cancer diagnosis that would change everything. My mother in law, who fought a grueling, unwinnable battle against Stage IV cancer, passed away after living with her terminal diagnosis for over a year.

As you can imagine, our first mother’s day without her was tough. How tough? We locked ourselves in the house, closed the blinds, wrapped ourselves in blankets, and didn’t talk to each other. And now? We worry about the lifetime of ‘firsts’ that await us… birthdays, holidays, vacations, new dogs, business successes, …children…

Gulp.

Our minds are reeling with unspoken grief. Our feelings became all too easy to ignore as we re-immersed ourselves in daily life, jobs, mundane shopping, conversation, you name it! We only face our sadness late at night or early in the morning before beginning our day or falling fast asleep. Eventually, I had enough of scheduling my misery; I allowed every ounce of despair to hit me at once. In opening those flood gates, I found myself in conversation with the universe. I took a pen to paper and plead to something larger than me,

“Dear Universe,

When I was a young girl, I began every prayer in this way – ‘I’m sorry I have so much to ask. I promise if you give me what I want, I will behave. I promise if you give me everything I ask for, I’ll do exactly what you want me to do.’ Well, today I’m just asking. No bargaining. No tit for tat. No more ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine.’ Please hear me when I ask for this and trust that I will be there in turn for you 1000 fold when the time comes. Today I am asking for happiness. Why have you put us through so much? With everything to look forward to… here we stand so full of grief and I want to know, will we ever rest easy?”

As I wrote and wrote, I heard my own voice, assured and calm. It told me that I was responsible for all those things I desired. My own happiness, a home filled with joy – they were so attainable when put in to action. Something had spoken through me and just like sitting in meditation, my thoughts of misery and grief dissipated to make room for relief and hope.

The universe told me, loud and clear –

– I am no longer a victim of my circumstance

Naturally, we should handle our feelings with care, understanding, and acceptance. Of course we are given permission to grieve in our own ways and at our own pace. However, if we are to truly find peace in spite of our loss, we’ve got to hold our head a little higher without feeling victimized by life itself.

– I am not alone in this

No one is excluded from loss or misfortune in this life. Our grief and these tragedies inextricably link us to one another. The sooner we speak with honesty, intention, and authenticity, the sooner we escape our misery to come together in our human experience.

– My joy is a choice

Regardless of all those trials and tribulations that mark each of our stories as our own, our mindset determines how we come out on the other side. If we see joy as a choice in the midst of our misery, will we choose it? I’d like to believe the universe wants us to.

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