Grief Transformed: Sarah's Story of Resilience and Growth
I fell down hard as grief I thought I resolved reemerged a few years ago. I didn’t know where it came from or what it meant. Repressed feelings of anger conflicted with my empathy for those I lost. I wanted to condemn them and give them compassion at the same time. I didn’t know that grief could be such a mess. I wasn’t ready to feel it. I just wailed and cried and outstretched my arms, wanting to hold onto those I lost one more time.
Other times, it would leave me alone. I didn’t feel it. Or sometimes, I would just feel nothing in general. Total emptiness. I began to look to make meaning. I found Reimagine and started to attend their events. I shared my story, led a “journaling your grief” workshop with my own prompts, and started to create resources. The community, speakers, workshops, vigils and safe spaces inspired my whole life.
I have healed from trauma and PTSD in many ways. Reimagine opened my mind to how many different perspectives there are about grief and resilience. One thing I learned about is “happy grief.” Sometimes, I did find myself smiling or laughing at memories and I didn’t know if that was appropriate. I now felt less guilty. I learned about post-traumatic growth, which is possible then I learned from another expert that there isn’t always a meaning or silver lining to grief.
I figured out for myself, and my own theory is that the two can coexist. Grief doesn’t have to have a meaning, and you can also give it a meaning. My faith informs me that grief can be used, even if in unseen ways that we do not understand. People come to talk from many different faiths and walks of life. Once, a friend of mine shared with me the poem “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver. I attended a Reimagine event, and a Buddhist named Soren read that poem. I couldn’t believe it! I love serendipity like that.
Sometimes, grief is just a nuisance or a longing for an unmet need. You can’t always resolve it. It just has to be. Knowing that there is support and resources at Reimagine has made all the difference. I’ve never been so moved or felt so fondly for the people involved. The moderators do so well. The breakout sessions are great.
I take away more than just the lesson of grief. I learn humanity and what it takes to celebrate life. That’s a gift that keeps on giving as I help others see the light. I’ve been reached by their causes. I don’t feel the need to go to every event or keep up every second. But I do know it’s always there for me. I have learned to self-soothe and invest in self-care.
I realized I don’t have to hide my pain. I can be myself. I’ve been able to use my story to help others. I have enjoyed the art, music, poetry, singing, meditations, and other unique setups that Reimagine presents. I think outside the box now in how I approach the topic of grief and feel like it has encouraged my identity. There is always something new to learn. I never get bored! Reimagine is a treasure of a find. Thank you for changing my life!
Sarah Jeanne Browne is a wisdom collector who assisted Tiny Buddha with such projects and then formed her own philosophy; writer for Forbes and other popular self-help sites (and now deconstructs self-help as the industry can be misleading); speaker for organizations such as The Peal Center, Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network, The Woodlands Foundation, Reimagine, various podcasts and more; activist for human and animal rights; innovator and problem solver such as creating a way to connect with kids for EndCAN - LOVES: Listen, Open Up, Validate, Explain, and Solve Together; brand and social media consultant; and lived experience speaker and writer with bipolar, dyscalculia, and AuDHD.