SR - Hey, how lovely to see you. It has been a while. Looking at you, perhaps that has been a good thing. You look great.
Jan - Why thank you, Sylvia-Rose. That’s very kind. Sorry, I haven’t been for a while. I decided to engage in living more rather than reflecting. As you can imagine, I am always reflecting. Especially after our last chat.
SR - I remember that. We were about to talk about how when grief subsides you get to reconstruct your life.
Jan - We were. I have also thought about that a lot and asked myself how I have reconstructed my life and what that means to me.
SR - What does it mean to you?
Jan - The key lesson from losing Murray is that life is very short and we each have our own that we are responsible for. We are responsible for how we show up, how we respond to what life throws at us, and how we choose to feel about ourselves. Before losing Murray, working as a Happiness speaker, I was very conscious about what others might think of me, I would nurture people around their lack of self-worth and self-esteem issues. THEN, big wake-up call, I realised I would also be dead one day. I don’t have time to deal with my lack of self-esteem issues and neither does anyone else. Life is short. PLUS, a big life lesson from Murray, we don’t know what day that might be!
SR - You said life is short twice. I guess that means it is important.
Jan - It is. It is very important! It is a mistake to think you might have another 10 or 20 years! Don’t put anything off for later That is why it is also important to reconstruct your life and do it boldly but also in tune with your true self. Our TRUE selves don’t have a lack of self-esteem or self-worth issues. Our true selves know they are pure and life is a privileged experience. When I talk of reconstructing, I guess I am talking about listening to your heart rather than your head. Those are the things not to put off.
SR - Why is it important to do it that way?
Jan - Because your head is susceptible to being influenced by what others want or other’s opinions and views on life. Your heart knows you. Your heart knows what needs reconstruction. It knows what to keep and what to let go. It knows what to forgive and what to give love to.
SR - Don’t you mean who to give love to?
Jan - No. I meant what to give love to. We should love everyone. That is a given. We might not like someone or like what they do but we should love each other because we are all the same really. Deep within, all we want is to love and be loved. People die without love. If it is a thing or a moment in time, we get to choose whether to bring that into our newly constructed life, so we can appreciate our lives fully and be grateful for all its joys and challenges. And I mean all. I will never be grateful for losing Murray but I will always be grateful for him being my son and grateful for all he enriched my life with. And I mean all the challenging times as well as the fun and joyful times. The poem by William Blake is in my DNA now about Joy and Woe. It helps keep me at peace. I prefer aiming for peace rather than happiness. Happiness always has its opposite, unhappiness. Peace doesn’t have an opposite. It is simply peace.
SR - That makes sense. I would never have thought about that. What poem are you talking about?
Jan - I am sure I have shared this before. There is probably more to it than this but this is what helps me.
‘Life is made of joy and woe and when this we know, through the world we safely go.’
It doesn’t take the sting out of the painful parts of living but, I find, it gives you the confidence to keep getting up to each new day, knowing that joy is on the horizon eventually because that is what life is made up of, so, it goes without saying, that so long as you are alive and breathing, things will change. That also goes for when things are in a place of great joy, woe will probably arrive at some point. This can sound a little negative but it isn’t. I guess it is reality.
SR - I guess so and knowing these wise words will make the good times even brighter.
Jan - Yes. You are right. This poem helps you live more consciously and aware of how lucky you are to have life, even in challenging times. I heard a really profound comment the other day, I wish I knew where I had heard it. It wasn’t me but this is a great observation, that after loss or any life-changing event, ‘your old life becomes like dead soil which will allow new growth to come and your old life fertilises your new life.’ Isn’t that a beautiful thing?
SR - I love that. It means nothing of the past is ever a waste.
Jan - No. Everything in your life, good/bad, joy/woe, serves a purpose so long as you live consciously with your eyes open.
SR - Living consciously seems to have been the common thread of our conversations while you have been coming to visit.
Jan - Yes. Talking of visiting. This is hard for me to say but I have been thinking this for a while now. It is time for me to stop coming to chat. I have decided to walk forward into my new life fully. Murray is within me. He is in my DNA, the way I was in his. I am taking all his lessons and applying them to my newly reconstructed life.
SR - I am feeling a little sad about that but I also agree and more than anything I wish you great love and great strength. Before you go what have been the key lessons for you?
Jan - That is easy now. The really big one is to surrender to life. Enjoy it. Don’t take things personally. Life will always have its knocks, just like William Blake says. Sometimes these knocks will be big and sometimes small but above all else, know we are born of love, we are love and we go back to love.
SR - What is there not to love? 😊
Jan - Nothing. But remember there will always be contrast. There will always be joys and woes and often in the same moment. Before I go, I have a little Christmas gift for you.
SR - Of course. It is nearly Christmas. How many Christmases has it been now?
Jan - This will be the fourth one.
SR - How are you feeling about that?
Jan - Well, Three years ago I would never have expected to be looking forward to Christmas but I am. As I have just said, it is possible to have joy and woe at the same moment. That is my Christmas. We will get together as a family and with special friends, there will be things to celebrate and happy memories to make, all the while there will be a thump at our bruised and broken hearts.
SR - Do you think your hearts will ever not be broken?
Jan - I have asked myself that question. When I was in my early 20’s I collected antiques. I had a very precious 1940’s blue vase. When my children were really small I kept it in the attic but as they grew I decided I wanted it on display. One evening, I heard a big smash in the kitchen where Lewis and Murray were. I asked if everything was OK and they reassured me it was. Eventually, I went into the kitchen to find both of them with superglue piecing my blue vase back together. They did a great job and it looked like a vase again but it would always be broken and it would always be fragile. I liken a broken heart to that vase. I guess we now have gentle, tender hearts and I now surrender to that.
SR - It seems like surrendering is making you stronger.
Jan - perhaps it is. I would like to leave you with a yellow heart. This is a message of love and appreciation from both Murray and me. I feel quite sad saying goodbye. I know it isn’t really goodbye and I can come here anytime but it is time for me to enter into my new, reconstructed life, fully.
SR - I feel a little sad too. Thank you for my yellow heart. I will treasure it. You know where I am if ever you need an unbiased chat. You can say anything to me, you know that.
Jan - I do. Thank you. I was going to bring some of Murray’s ashes but I am happy to keep him with me for a while longer. So, thanks for being there and listening to me trying to make sense of all of this. Merry Christmas.
SR - And Merry Christmas to you. No problem about the ashes. That is something you must be certain of. You better go now before I cry.
Jan - You are so funny. Maybe I will come back in the Spring.
SR - I would like that.
Jan - Bye 🌲🎅
SR - Bye xx
READ THE ADDITIONAL CONVERSATION - Finding gratitude on Mother's Day after the loss of a child - HERE