A quick search through my journal since the summer of '21 will find two books referenced consistently: Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning and CS Lewis' A Grief Observed. These two books contain so much wisdom, and intertwine so perfectly that I often quote them together. For example:
“Human life, under any circumstances, never ceases to have a meaning, and that this infinite meaning of life includes suffering and dying..."
― Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accept it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
Both authors tell us that suffering and death are essential parts of life. However, just because we know this truth does not make it easier to bear when it happens to us. Regardless of how much we try to prepare, grief will overtake each of us at some point, especially when death comes so suddenly and dramatically. Frankl likens grief to gas filling up a chamber, “To draw an analogy: a man's suffering is similar to the behavior of a gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber."
Lewis describes the totality of it like this, "Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything."
Mark was larger than life, and in plenty of ways, he was the central person in my life. The grief over losing him is as everpresent as the sky spreading over everything. I have never known this level of emotion before. So when Frankl said, “But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer”, I was already well down that road. And if I was ever ashamed of my tears (I wasn't), there was no holding back at this point. The grief had filled me completely, just as Frankl described.
During that year, everything crystalized in my life. My purpose on Earth, our entire reason for being, was boiled down to only one thing: Love. I may not have come to this conclusion so clearly on my own, but Frankl gave me the words and clarity. He said it perfectly, “For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth - that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”
What, then, am I to do with this?
Personally, Talan and I are still walking this grief journey together, but this time in our lives was chaotic. Despite the chaos, our absolutely amazing kids kept us from sitting still for even a moment. I am lucky enough to have still so much in my life to cling to, especially these energetic little people literally lifting me up off the mat every day. Although, the most profound realization, personally, is that I still have hope even in the midst of the devastating loss. As I mentioned in my previous post, CS Lewis says, "You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth of falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you."
I do not like this realization, but it makes sense like it never has before. Frankl, while living through the atrocious Holocaust, came to this conclusion, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Unfortunately, with this freedom to choose, we have thousands of years of history to show that we are flawed, to say the least.
Yet, Frankl points out that “in some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”
And there it is!
The most extraordinary story ever told centers around one thing: sacrifice. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
After Mark was taken from us, I could see my priorities being rearranged, as if someone else was doing that for me:
- Love God
- Love my family
- Love others
Following suit, I completely rearranged my life to align with the priorities above. I create daily space to love God, praising him sometimes and yelling at him other times, which is a much healthier relationship. I am also much more aware and available to Talan and my kids. Again, much healthier relationships. Finally, Simply Human Advisors was born, in honor of Mark, so I could help others who feel overwhelmed, lost, or alone.
My clients come to me in different stages, carrying various forms of grief. Still, my objective is the same: (1) to provide clarity and a sense of stability, at least through their finances, to those who cannot seem to find it, and (2) to do this with empathy and compassion.
Book an initial conversation with me here if this speaks to you. To be fully present to you and my family, both sacred commitments, I am only taking on one client a month. I look forward to meeting you.