The Paradox of Grief: Leading Your Life

pegjodifall03blackIt was January 29, 2005 when my daughter Jodi died from an osteosarcoma and I was 46.  Life unexpectedly and rather quickly threw me and my family an enormous curveball.  What was once a rather normal and ordinary life, quickly became an extraordinary venture entangled with both joy and sorrow.  Life and death.  

Loss of any type, whether it be a job termination, divorce, the end of a close personal relationship, or the death of a loved one, can send you staggering into an unknown world.  For some it means the loss of identity and feeling at a loss for what to do. Loss also changes you.

After the initial rawness of reality and grief, I searched to answer the personal question, “who am I now?” Could the bittersweet paradox of grief ultimately be my teacher?  Because life is strong and fragile, beautiful and ugly, simple and complex, humorous and catastrophic. Yet it seems contradictory in the realm of our realities that both “ands” are true at the same time.

In the past ten years, I have spoken with other people who have experienced vast forms of loss.  Our conversations usually lead to “how do you create a life you want after your devastating loss?”  I openly share a few personal things I did then and encourage you to try.

Practice gratitude.  This may sound like an overused cliche, but often in our sorrow we find it difficult to find things that are good.  When we view things through the lens of gratitude, our world is richer.  It is difficult to bring about something new when you are not able to see that which is already present in your life.

Be open to all that is unknown.  With any loss comes enormous fear, and this fear can cause restriction in our thoughts and behavior.  Living with a restricted view is like breathing with one lung, you are unable to expand your breath properly. Opening yourself up is necessary to creating a new path –even in uncertainty.

Accept there are unanswered questions.  Some losses will never provide answers.  They don’t present themselves with a reason.  Seeking a reason for your loss can lead to countless tears and more loss.

Creating and living life post-loss is possible, if you as the leader of your life consciously nurture it.  


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  • Nicky / January 29, 2016 at 6:52 am

    Peg, my thoughts and prayers are with you on this anniversary of Jodi’s passing. Your inner strength, passion and inspiring words provide great motivation to embrace change and move forward. Thank you!

  • Janice E Lee / January 29, 2016 at 7:41 am

    Peg, I can’t imagine, and it is constantly one of my fears. I admire your strength and what you have done with your life since. You certainly have taught me a lot, thanks again!

  • Jane Bennett / January 29, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Peg, you are very wise. Blessings and thank you…

  • Debbie / January 29, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Recently lost my husband and am going through the same feelings

  • Spanky / January 29, 2016 at 8:36 am

    Peg – You, Tom and Jamie continue to amaze and inspire many of us. We all admire your coping skills and strength, but also your ability to share your feelings with the rest of us. We are all thinking of you guys today!!

  • Catharine / January 29, 2016 at 10:23 am

    I can’t believe it’s been 11 years since her passing. I remember the day Jodi got her admission letter to Michigan. The screaming and running up and down the mailbox hallway. She was always so full of life! Ironically, this memory popped into my head out of no where yesterday as I was walking to my mailbox.

    Thinking of all of you today. Thanks for sharing your strength with us all.

  • Christine / January 29, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Peg, This is so beautiful and exactly what I needed to read today. It describes how I have been feeling the last 13 months. Our loss was very different however I agree that, any loss throws you into an unknown world. I’m very sorry for the loss of your beautiful daughter and grateful to read your message today.

  • Sara O'Brien/Eddinger / January 29, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Jodi was one of my best friends growing up. I was so envious of her swimming capabilities, short sassy hair and her beautiful smile. I loved coming to your house, playing “Who wants to be a millionaire” video games, going on the treadmill, listening to her CD player and eating power bars. I remember you coming to the school for step classes and she was so excited! Nothing but positive, fun memories with your whole family. I wish we hadn’t lost touch when she needed people the most. I miss her and our memories but I know she’s making all my other friends and family that passed laugh up in heaven. Love and miss you guys.

  • Debi Pulaski / January 29, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Ahh, Peg, you and your family are in our thoughts always. We cannot wrap our brains around your loss of a child; only as a loss of our beloved niece Sarah. This is truly a remarkable piece you have written. It shows your strength. I say a prayer everyday that my family and friends can channel their grief into something positive over the lost of loved ones. You definitely have! We love you guys!

  • Denise Exley / January 29, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    What a wonderful way to not only survive but thrive in this life until we see our loved ones in heaven. God bless!

  • Raeshelle Williams / January 29, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Beautiful!!!! It’s never easy I Iost my husband to leukemia back in 2004

  • Sarah / January 30, 2016 at 5:57 am

    I have learned so much about life and grace and grief and healing from you, Peg. I have told you that though I didn’t know Jodi, I feel she has a place in my life, because I know her through you! Beautiful girl, beautiful, short life. She made an impact in her time on this earth. You are an inspiration for how to take grief and learn and grow and love. Thank you.

  • Robb / January 30, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    Peg: Your email was inspirational. Thank you!!

  • JoAnn / January 30, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Thank you for sharing the life altering experience of loss after Jodi’s passing and the new path of your generous life. You help us all live fuller lives Peg. Love, prayers, and joyful thoughts of Jodi to You, Tom & Jamie.

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