Dear Nikki

by Nikki Mark

I always love hearing from you and do my very best to respond to the many questions I receive.  Sometimes, I feel your questions and my answers would benefit others, too. This is one of them.

Today’s question was submitted by Leroy in the UK. It pertains to the loss of his child, but my response can be applied to any kind of loss.

Dear Nikki: 

It’s been 10 years since we lost our son and even now it still feels like yesterday. My question is how do we get past the mourning phase? I feel like I’m stuck in a time warp.

Dear Leroy: 

A grief therapist once told me soon after my son passed away that “The pain is forever and will never go away.”

As angry as that statement made me, it was also one of the best things anyone ever said to me following my loss, because it activated something in me that knew she was wrong and could not accept that future.

Irrespective of what this therapist truly meant (which she struggled to clarify), what I heard her say was that I was destined to live a life of suffering. While it sure did seem that way, I decided that while my life might never be the same, I still had reasons to make it something meaningful.

So, how do we learn to move through incomprehensible loss when nothing has prepared us for it and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all playbook to help guide the way?  

At the very least, we can do what you—I believe—are starting to do: make a conscious choice to stop mourning and start living again. For ourselves. For our existing loved ones. And for those we have lost and deeply miss.

I have learned that grief is bottomless, and when we let it fester, it becomes far too heavy and burdensome to carry on our own. At some point, grief must be channeled into an action of love or else it can take us down further than we ever knew possible and make us mentally and physically sick—as it did to me for a time. 

So, I was incredibly relieved when another more spiritual therapist (whom I am happy to recommend, if you’re interested) spent an hour with me on the phone, and $50 later, gave me some life-changing news:

“This loss will turn into the biggest love of your life. A love you never knew was possible. I promise.”

Suddenly I saw hope, and the possibilities of experiencing more love instead of more pain led me to make another choice:

I could choose to believe that the amount of pain I was enduring was the equivalent of how much I loved my son, and then I could curl up with it like an addiction and slowly die with it the rest of my life. . .

. . .or I could rise up through my pain to honor my son by how I lived and express my love in a way that served others, and potentially honored myself in the process.

I chose the latter, and never looked back.

It has not been easy. In fact, it’s been nearly impossible at times. And no matter how far I’ve come, I still can’t believe this is my life. But I try not to get stuck in this thought cycle, because it’s counterproductive and only makes life feel harder.

So, Leroy, I recommend doing what author, life coach, and podcaster Derek Rydall said in a live discussion he and I had a few weeks ago and that he further breaks down in his book Emergence (which I recommend to anyone out there who may be on a journey of deep healing and transformation):

“Act from where you want to be, not from where you are.”

One way to approach this is to imagine how you’d like to feel and the kind of life you would like to have (taking into account the reality of your circumstances). Then, put one foot in front of the other and take a step forward in that direction.

Our imaginations are very powerful, so even when we don’t believe we can actually manifest the life we want, we can still do what Rydall recommends we do: “Fake it until you make it.” With every step we take, we not only get closer to the life we envision, but we also get further away from the life we no longer want. 

Don’t worry about taking the wrong first step. You can’t go wrong when you act from a place of love. The point is to get moving and trust that your intentions will pull you toward a brighter and more fulfilling life.

If your head is still too hazy and you don’t yet have a vision that inspires you, I offer you the one I used when I made the decision to start healing and living again: honor your son every day.

How?

Do one new thing every day to honor who he was and what he stood for.

Maybe allow yourself to smile bigger. Or to laugh harder. Or to give to others what he gave to you. Or maybe simply engage in an activity he loved and see where it leads you. Doing this will generate new energy in your life, foster new interests, and make you feel even closer to him. And all the while, you will also be honoring your own life without even realizing it.

I promise you—with each step, you will feel your son. You will continue growing and learning with your son. And if you really pay attention and open your mind, you may even start seeing signs of love and encouragement from your son.  

Like a superpower, he will live in your heart and help guide your every step as you learn how to channel your love for him into everything you do. 


Before I wrap this up, I want to share with you a stumbling block that I personally hit: 

Guilt.

I thought, “How can I genuinely enjoy life again when my child is not here?”

But guilt will not help you or those you love. It will only keep you from fully honoring your son in this world and helping his spirt soar in another. 

So, if you find a guilty thought creeping into your mind, maybe do what I do: counter it by taking some kind of positive action that honors your son and keeps you pressing forward.

Step by step, slow and simple, according to your own rhythm and belief system, this is how we begin to heal from the inside out. 

Bruce Springsteen actually said something at his concert in Los Angeles earlier this month that may touch you the way it touched me:

“Remember… grieving is the price we pay for loving.”

It may sound hard to believe (or even contradictory), but ultimately, the love you feel for your son is where your own unique recipe for healing awaits. Embrace it. Trust it. And follow its lead.

Your heart is telling you it’s time, and given that is where your son now resides, so is he.

2 thoughts on “Dear Nikki”

  1. Hi I’m Carol, I loss a son and a daughter. Son Rick died at age 22yrs old from aspiration, which is called restaurant death. After breakfast and went into his lungs.
    My daughter Michele went to take a shower her heart stopped. Sudden arrhythmia death syndrome, which they call SADS. She was 24 yrs old. Her and my son were nine yrs apart. Their deaths were twelve years apart.
    I read a book that read, if God ask you if he could have your child to teach, would you say yes?
    It really hurts to lose a child. You always cry when you hear a song, smell, etc. Mother’s Day, birthdays. I don’t care how many tears go by, feelings are there.
    Always talk about them, what they did that made you laugh, things they said. Everyone grieves in their own way, time. Just going to church, made me cry for over a year.
    Thank you for sharing your son with us.💔❤️❤️🥰🙏. Carol

    Reply
  2. Thank you, Carol, for sharing your story with us. I am so sorry you lost both Rick and Michele. Knowing your story inspires me, and I’m sure others as well. Sending love.❤️

    Reply

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