When faced with a severe tragedy, particularly the loss of a loved one, we must live by an honor code to survive. In my work helping others turn tragedy into healing, I’ve found Four Honorings to be the most important.
The First Honoring is Our Own Survival.
Where self-care and self-compassion become our guiding light, we fight our way back into life, one day, one breath at a time.
In “The Unbroken,” poet Rashini Rea reminded me of this after the death of my daughter, Jenna:
There is a brokenness
Out of which comes the unbroken,
A shatteredness out
Of which blooms the unshatterable,
There is a sorrow
Beyond all grief which leads to joy
And a fragility
Out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space
Too vast for words
Through which we pass with each loss,
And there is a cry, deeper than all sound
Whose serrated edges cut the heart
As we break open
To the place inside which is unbreakable
The Second Honoring is to do something good in their name. This can be as simple as lighting a candle every year, an act of kindness, bravery or peace, a memorial like the AFF to show our gratitude for the “life of service” they sacrificed.
The Third Honoring is to embody the best in them and their spirit in how we live on. Becoming the better, stronger, more caring and courageous version of ourselves.
Lastly, we honor them by writing new chapters in our own lives. Yes, the Fourth Honoring is to live out our lives as an expression of our love, not our sorrow.
Honoring the fallen, we discover the hidden truths in paradox:
They are fallen. And they are ascended, in our hearts — and in the divine tapestry of that which is greater than us.
They’re gone. And they’re right here. Both are true.
Going from “either-or” to a “both-and” opens our hearts and minds to the mysteries of life and death.
For that which began as LOVE and became an unspeakable sorrow seeks to become LOVE again.
Ken Druck, Ph.D., founder of The Jenna Druck Center in San Diego, is a renowned grief and resilience expert, speaker, organizational and family consultant, and award-winning author of several books including, The Real Rules of Life (Hay House). Follow Ken’s blog or find him on Facebook.