On loss and finding a way forward

Eight years ago, I experienced a devastating, unexpected, and embarrassing public loss. I couldn’t see a path through my grief – mostly because I didn’t know how to move forward. It took several months before I had a eureka moment — and that eureka moment led me to begin taking baby steps toward a dream that has since become Junket.

It hasn’t been easy (and truth: it hasn’t been as rosy as this Facebook feed might have you believe, either). But the new dream I’ve created from the ashes of a splintered paradigm has provided an honorable path forward, it’s made way for passion and purpose, and it’s enabled me to shed my original assessment of the loss of my marriage.

That loss (compounded by post-partum depression and the shell-shock of new motherhood) became the most profound opportunity for growth I’ve experienced in this life: not only did it crack my heart open and create a deep empathy for the quiet battles we don’t see others fighting on a day-to-day basis, but it also gave me a set of tools for navigating other losses.

Resilience is powerful stuff, indeed. And I’ve learned that reframing loss as an opportunity for the birth of new dreams creates space for those dreams to take shape.

Tonight, many of us are mourning paradigm-decimating losses… we’re being forced to acknowledge the dashing of long-held beliefs about who we are as a nation. We’ve thought ourselves above this sort of bigotry and hate, and we’ve been proven otherwise. For many, our casual sense of identity as the best country on earth (something ingrained from an early age) has been shattered from within. And for those who consider ourselves to be global citizens, we’re having to face an embarrassing reality: we, the American people, have elected the guy that no one took seriously (for so many obvious reasons), and whose rise to power was immune to evidence (a frustrating reality that also dogs efforts to develop any real response to climate disruption).

Yes, it stings. And yes, on the surface, the election of someone who brags about sexual assault and can’t be trusted with his own social media accounts is beyond the pale. But what if it’s an opportunity, too? What if waking up to frightening truths about current-day issues — and learning that our narratives aren’t as accurate as we’ve believed them to be — is a chance to awaken to other truths, as well?

The faster we reach Kübler-Ross’s fifth stage of grief (that means moving quickly through denial, anger, bargaining and depression in order to reach acceptance), the sooner we’ll be able to do the real work of finding opportunity in difficult circumstances. And the earlier we find opportunity, the sooner we’ll be able to turn ideas into concrete action.

If you’re in a dark place, look carefully for the bright spots up ahead (and as Fred Rogers famously encourages, it’s hope-instilling to look for the helpers, too…).

We’re in this together, and we’ll get through it together.

Love to you all.

Julie

4 Responses to On loss and finding a way forward

  1. Jennifer Maroney November 11, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

    Well said Julie. I am still reeling and know that I am not alone. We will get through this, together! Looking forward to the celebration at Junket on the 19th!

    • Julie Kearns November 12, 2016 at 4:25 pm #

      Thanks for your kind words, Jennifer. It’ll be great to see you next Saturday. Onward!

  2. Piper November 20, 2016 at 8:08 pm #

    This post helped me in unexpected ways as I navigate my own loss of a marriage…and then I got to the end and realized that one of my favorite shops is run by an old friend from high school – how lovely!

    • Julie Kearns November 21, 2016 at 3:01 pm #

      Piper, I’m so glad it could be helpful. I hope you are finding so much beauty in the new life you’re creating… -julie

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