Resilience: “The capacity to rebound from adversity strengthened and more resourceful. It is an activeprocess of endurance, self-righting, and growth in a response to crisis and challenge” (Walsh 2006).
Resilience was never a word with which I had been familiar until it defined me. In June 2012, out of the blue, my mother passed away. She was 44. My family and I tried to put ourselves back together again, but we just didn’t know how.
I didn’t know how to process what had happened, so for nearly four months, I pretended everything was okay. Everyone else was pretending to be okay, so I did, too. One day, I realized I just couldn’t do it anymore.
I was dealing with my own depression, even prior to my mother’s death, and holding in my true emotions wasn’t aiding in my recovery. People think if you ignore something, it will just go away, but life doesn’t work that way.
The first step on my path to resilience was admitting I wasn’t okay. I missed my mom; I needed her.
After four months of pretending everything was fine, then realizing I wasn’t okay, my grieving process finally began. I realized that sometimes, it's okay not to be okay.
Next, I had to forgive myself and my mother. I felt like she abandoned us; this was selfish, I know, but it was the root of my emotions and identifying this was the next step.
For a while, I was stuck in the anger stage of grief and I knew I needed to escape. I wrote my mother a letter of my forgiveness and burned it as a symbol of my anger leaving me.
Then, I had to allow myself to express my emotions. I embraced them. If this meant crying during class or talking about something that reminded me of my mother, that was okay. I wasn’t hiding the fact that I was healing.
The next step was looking toward the future and adjusting my visions of what I thought my life would be like.
My mom wouldn't be there to help me get ready for my senior dance and watch me get crowned queen; she wouldn't be there to cheer me on as I walked across the stage at graduation, and she wouldn't send me off to college. She will never see me get married or be there to hold her first grandchild.
When life throws you a challenge, nothing is ever the same. Your life will forever be altered, but you have to adjust and move onward.
It is a long process. It took me a year and a half to become who I am now. At this point in my life, I am happier than I have ever been.
I still struggle with money, college, friends and my love life, like any other 20-something. I just know that no matter what, things will work out, and there is a purpose behind every obstacle you must face.
In my mother’s death, I found life. I know that our time is limited and it can end at any given moment. It may sound cliché, but I do try to live every day as if it is my last.
I say “I love you” more than I should, I get sentimental way too often and I appreciate the little things in life because I know they mean the most.
It's moments like laughing in the car singing to "Bohemian Rhapsody" – one of my mom’s favorites — and hugging her before I headed off to my ACTs on the morning she died.
So, take my advice: Say I love you more, get sentimental and appreciate the little things. Life is an amazing journey; enjoy what you can and persevere through the hardships.
No matter what challenges you face in your life, you can be resilient and you can overcome anything. I believe in you.