Resilience can be learned.
Resilience is needed when we trade in an old identity for a new one. When some part of us dies and is replaced by some new facet, new face. Maybe it is a part we have harbored in secret for years. Maybe it’s a seed whose time has come and unexpectedly sprouts. Adolescence and coming out of the closet (any closet) require resilience.
Resilience is needed when we lose a part of our heart when a beloved is lost to us through death, or separation or divorce. Sometimes our loss may seem unbearable, and we may be tempted to run back into our closet and hide, cursing that the gods have unfairly punished us. “Reverse this!” we shout. It is not possible.
Resilience is needed whenever we start living outside our comfort zone and try something new. Anything new, even riding a bike.
Resilience is needed frequently on what seems like the battlefield of life. How hard it can be to simply lay down our arms and let someone hold us in theirs. We need to ask for support. Accept it when it comes.
Resilience comes when we learn to say “no” to some of the trappings of grief:
Say no to Personalization. No, it’s not your fault. You will be tempted to blame yourself. Immediately remove the word “sorry” from your vocabulary, at least as it pertains to this.
Say no to Permanence. No, this is not permanent. You will be tempted to forget you ever had a life where you could smile and laugh. But know that things will get better. Life will seem normal one day, or at least become the “new normal.”
Say no to Pervasiveness. No, this does not have to affect every area of your life. You will be tempted to think that EVERYTHING has changed. You may feel guilty if you allow yourself some small pleasure in another area of your life, because of the need to give this weight. Yes, respect that this is HUGE, but it is not EVERYTHING. To compartmentalize is healthy, at least in this case.
Finally remember to be grateful. In the brutal moments when you are overtaken by the void of your loss, recall what is still there that you are grateful for: Those loved ones who remain in your life. That part of you that will always be there despite your metamorphosis. Let not all be lost, and see with fresh eyes what you have previously taken for granted.
One door has closed, but so too has a window opened. Be bold and survey the new view. Catch the breeze when you can and remember to breathe.