I sat in a circle of women, hoping to grow from this grieving place.

This was one of the many classes I’ve taken to gather wisdom while trying to make sense of the heartache, loss and grief.  I listened with such great intensity to all the instructors words.  You see, I was eager to find some relief and grow from this painful place.  I needed a hero, someone to come and save me from this chaotic, life altering experience.

As the class continued, we were told to look at the other women sitting in the circle while observing any thoughts or emotions that came up in relationship to anyone.  The instructor gave us time.  Long enough for the thoughts to come up and begin to be uncomfortable.

The thoughts started to flood my brain……Oh no, things are about to get real…this is the part of “self-inquiry” that becomes awkwardly emotional and we are going deep into the abyss of emotions and thought.  Here we go…I thought I was casting aside my ego, took a breath and ventured into the exercise with both feet.

As I stood in front of this woman, I looked into her eyes and at the same time, had to tell her how I honestly felt.  She just happened to be one of the women whom had been to many of the groups before, assumed she would then behave in a certain way.  So, I shared with her this- “It feels like you didn’t even acknowledge me when I came here today, I hoped because I was new, you would welcome me and make me feel comfortable, instead, it feels like you just ignored me.”

There, I said it…she can understand how I feel now.  She can change her behavior to make me feel comfortable.  The woman across from me just listened staring back into my eyes.  Not a word….


The instructor brought out a mirror, gave it to me and said “take a look in the mirror and say the same thing again!”

What the ….? Really?  Oh no!

As I brought the mirror to my face, it was as if a gigantic pointer finger was staring right back at me!  Everything shifted…..I started to cry, my tender heart swelled and my eyes softened as I began to speak those words to myself.

“It feels like you didn’t acknowledge me today, I hoped that because I was new at this, you would welcome me and make me feel comfortable, instead, it feels like you just ignored me.”

OH       MY      GOODNESS!!!

Quiet, poignant, deep thought pause.  It is so much easier to deflect onto other people.  I can blame them and make them responsible for my well-being.  It was one of those AHA moments.  A moment of truth literally mirrored back to me and it was hard to hear.  But it was the truth.

Here it was I had been pointing the finger out at others to fix things for me, to figure out what I needed and to then give me the map on how to chart my own course.  I was playing the blame and shame game.

Dang…..that is a hard pill to swallow.

As long as I kept looking to others, I would never really discover my own wisdom found within my challenges and strengths.  I actually needed to be held accountable for my actions, regardless of the outcome.  It was no one else’s job to make me do anything or for that matter, hold me back.

I am responsible for creating my own self-worth, establishing my own self-care and listening to my wise guide inside.  It is my responsibility to acknowledge myself and then take the steps to discover what I need in order to flourish and bounce back in adversity.  My journey of grief is uniquely mine…

All along I had been looking for someone else to be my hero.  I had been putting others on pedestals waiting for them to give me the green light or offer me the magic wand to create myself or change my circumstances.  I had no idea what I was doing or how to navigate this new reality of life after loss.  I assumed someone else knew what I needed and honestly, I wanted them to come along and fix it for me.  I was tired, lost and heartbroken.  Life had happened to me.

And so the truth continues. 

Yes, life happens…to everyone.

Every single person is struggling with some type of adversity in their life and the circumstances are not comparable.  Each situation unique to upbringing, history, culture and personality.  No one has a magic wand or a predetermined map on how to navigate our life challenges.  At least, I don’t know of any!

The mirror lesson-

We can take a look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves what needs to be done.  It is then that we take the next step and begin.  One breath, one step, one thought and one action at a time.  We can reach out our hand to someone else or ask a friend for support.  We may retreat to the mountains to clear our mind and fill our hearts or run to the city to play basketball with friends.  Quite often, we take a step in one direction just to find out it is not the direction you want to go.  That is progress.  That means we are one step closer to finding out what we do want or need!

I will create myself by choosing how to respond and build character with my actions.  I will be tender and fierce, vulnerable and courageous while welcoming myself even when I start something new or take a risk.  I will try, fall, learn and then stand back up- over and over again with bruised knees, a broken heart and a willing mind.  Because I choose to!  When I need to rest and rejuvenate, I will do just that…I am my own authority.

My point is this…

I’ve been looking for a hero to come and save me in my grief.  I now realized, no one could be my hero.  I could find strength and inspiration in others…but no one can do the act of heroism but me.  Therefore, I needed to turn the mirror, take a good hard look while pointing a finger right back at me.  Of course I can ask others for help in all sorts of ways….we lift each other up by walking beside each other and extending a hand…..absolutely.

Yet at the end of the day, we must each turn inward to our wise guide inside and heart wisdom to find the next clue on our journey. Finally, take a breath, reach out our hand one more time and take another step into life!

So go take a look in the mirror, meet your hero…

As a Licensed Whole Health Educator WHE® and Life Reentry® Practitioner®, Marni facilitates the overall health–mind, body, spirit–of her clients. Since the death of her husband, she has navigated the world of grief, choosing to pick up the pieces and recreate herself in a life with renewed purpose. Facilitating retreats in Idaho and Belize have become a favorite way to connect with others discovering life after loss. Join her at www.coalescediscovery.com

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