10/13/2014 02:47 pm ET Updated Dec 13, 2014

Losing a Child Without Losing Your Mind


When the unthinkable happens, the first impulse is to believe that all is lost. When we lose our parents, we feel as though we've lost a big part of our past. When we lose a child -- especially our only child -- we feel as though we've lost our future.

After awhile, as we go on living, we realize the future continues to happen, regardless. It may not be the future we believed would happen, but it's still our future. We go on living and breathing and showing up. Even still, it feels as though the path we were on took a turn, and we are now living a life we never planned, never saw, never wanted.

Death, divorce, and illness, are all unwelcome interruptions on our preplanned desired path forward. We create life, we cherish relationships, we nurture self care, and still, the road turns. Humbled in the face of something outside our control, we have two choices: give up, or reach for something more than ourselves. To remain locked in the state of desperation and despair is giving up. To open up to explore the bigger picture, the greater understanding, the eternal "why," is the other choice.

There are plenty of resources to start the process of rebuilding this new future. For many people that's all that's required to find peace and acceptance with the turn in their road.

When my only son was killed two years ago, the first levels of support, the grieving support groups, held my hand, and let me weep. A necessary part of the process of course, but soon I was ready for more. I was hungry for more: more understanding, more awareness, more self-power. It felt important to use my mind, not continue to lose it.

Further resources involved exploring beliefs and understandings that were usually considered outside the box. But then, death was also outside the box, wasn't it? Certainly outside the life-only box.

Death, divorce, and illness, turn your beliefs upside down. To begin creating a new belief system is the next step. No sense taking on someone else's belief system. It's not a one-size fits all life, so you won't find a one-size fits all belief system. It has to be personal. It has to feel real. It has to be user-friendly for your new life.

For many, it's the first time they've ever thought about what they believe, and why. Consider working with practitioners who are skilled in seeing outside the predicable life path. Reach for books that seem to speak to you. Don't give away your new found mind to someone who will discount it. You're building trust with life. That takes time and strength. The process and discovery is the new road you are paving for your future now.