guest post by Judith Sebastian
(originally posted on the Alliance of Hope for Survivors of Suicide Loss forum and used here with permission of the author)
Before the pandemic, I kept busy in my retirement volunteering at my local soup kitchen and food pantry. We had monthly social gatherings that we attended. But now the gatherings are cancelled and I have discontinued the volunteering. The work those centers do has been mainstreamed and fewer volunteers are needed. I have underlying medical conditions and am reluctant to venture out too much. So how to feel productive in my retirement? I went down a gray road where I was becoming very unproductive. Became a little depressed and downright lazy. So I decided I would have my daily 5 goals. Things I could accomplish and feel better about myself. That was good and I did feel better. But what was my purpose? Was washing windows my purpose?
All my life, I never seemed to worry much about what my purpose was. Seemed like school was my purpose. Then I became a speech therapist and fixing kids’ speech was my purpose. I married and had kids and being a wife and mom was my purpose. In the survivor community, I hear that a lot, “what is my purpose?” My son seemed to have trouble finding his purpose and I think people who suffer mental illness and are not able to live up to their potential struggle with finding their purpose.
Well, I have my own theory. It is that we all really have the same purpose. It is to love and help each other. And anytime we are engaged in demonstrating love for others or helping others, we are fulfilling our purpose. So I looked back at my daily 5 goals. And each day I try to designate one goal to be my "heart work." Who can I send a card or a text to to let them know I am thinking of them? Who can I take a baked good to to encourage them? Who can I visit with distancing or FaceTime so they feel less lonely? It is heart work and it is the most fulfilling thing I can do now.
They say you can’t give from an empty cup, but for some reason my cup is empty until I give. That is what is helping me through this time. Heart work is now my purpose.
Way for Hope
My name is Jan McDaniel. I speak grief. I also speak peace and healing. I started A Way for Hope blog and website to house projects I create that might help others who are grieving. The blog has expanded to include guest posts by my dear friends and fellow survivors who wanted to speak hope for others, too.
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