The Beacon: 2024 06/16

Counselors often tell the bereaved that grief will change them, acknowledging that life after loss will never be the same. They suggest there will be a "new normal"—a different yet settled pattern to rely on. But when is this supposed to happen? Every day, I feel off balance, scrambling to catch up to the clock ticking away the hours. I cannot find the pattern or the beat.

When Texa was twelve, she qualified for USA's Diversity & Inclusion Select Camp. One requirement was to submit a personal essay to the Select Camp Committee to give insight into the qualities that might make a swimmer a good candidate. Texa wrote that her favorite part of swimming, besides the competition, was pace training with the tempo trainer. She explained that the tempo trainer is like one's heartbeat, marking the pace and leading the way. If a swimmer misses a beat in training, it can confuse the entire lane of swimmers.

Texa's analogy of the tempo trainer resonates deeply with me. In swimming, as in life, there is supposed to be a rhythm that guides us, a beat that we can follow. When that beat is disrupted, everything feels wrong and uncoordinated.

For a bereaved mother, this disruption is profound. The rhythm of life that once felt natural and easy is now jarring and unfamiliar. The steady pace I once relied on has been replaced by an erratic, unsteady beat. I am constantly trying to find my footing on shaky ground.

Amid this chaos, I am forced to find a way to keep moving. There is no option to stop and no way to request a different tempo. I must learn to adapt to this new, broken rhythm to find a way to move forward despite the constant confusion.

It is a painful process, filled with mistakes and moments of despair. But within this struggle are also moments of resilience, of finding a new kind of strength. The grief that disrupts and confuses us also teaches us to navigate the unpredictable and find our way even when the path is unclear.

Grief changes us deeply. It forces us to confront our greatest pain and find a way to live within it. This journey is about navigating life's ever-changing rhythm after loss.

Moving to this broken beat, I find strength in the struggle. Each step, each moment of imbalance, is proof of the resilience that lies within. It is a reminder that there is a way forward, even during deep grief. Grief will never be a comfortable rhythm, but it is a rhythm, nonetheless. It is part of the dance of life, filled with pain and beauty. As I learn to move to this new beat, I find grace in the struggle and strength in the ability to keep moving forward.

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1 comment

Robin, Your words do an amazing job of capturing the turmoil and disorientation that comes with profound loss. The analogy of the tempo trainer and the rhythm of life is particularly striking, as it beautifully illustrates how grief can disrupt the natural flow we once knew. Your journey through this new, broken rhythm is not just about survival; it’s about finding a new way to live, even when the familiar patterns are shattered.

Grief doesn’t come with a timeline or a clear path to a “new normal.” It’s a personal journey that each individual navigates at their own pace. The sense of imbalance and the struggle to find footing are natural parts of this process. Your resilience and ability to find moments of strength and grace amid the chaos are testament to your enduring spirit.

As you both continue to adapt to this altered rhythm, remember that it’s okay to feel off balance. Every step forward, no matter how unsteady, is a step towards finding a new way to live. You and Jerry’s strength in the face of such profound grief is inspiring, and your ability to keep moving forward, even in the face of uncertainty, speaks volumes about y’all’s resilience.

In time, the rhythm may still feel broken, but it will also become uniquely yours—a testament to your journey and your strength. Keep finding grace in the struggle and know that each moment of resilience is a victory.

With Love,
Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson

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