I recently watched one of my dearest friends do the unimaginable. She buried her 2-year old son after he spent half of his life fighting cancer. Make no mistake, he was as strong as they come and fought harder than most people could have; yet, his purpose here was fulfilled in a very short time. Hence, his loved ones were forced to say goodbye for now. The fact is, he had more impact on this world in 2 short years than most of us have in 70+. And, despite all that, my sweet friend has to live without her son’s physical presence, and she feels indescribable pain; pain that most of us cannot imagine and hopefully will never have to bear. Although she is one of the strongest people I know (after all, she gave birth to a brave warrior boy), she recently told me that some days her ache is unbearable… Needless to say, I’ve been at a loss for how to help her.
As a coach and someone who typically is not at a loss for words, there is nothing I can say that will help her. I want to help, but words are not helpful in situations like this. I want to take her pain away. I cannot. I can sit with her while she’s in pain, but I cannot take it from her. I want to tell her it’ll be okay. But it will never be okay. Will she heal? I don’t know that one’s heart ever fully heals from such a loss; yet, time will ease the rawness of what she feels today. The only thing I have been able to say to her that seemed to make some sense was, “Just take one moment at a time, one breath at a time.” That is really all she can do and all she needs to focus on for as long as it takes.
I share this because this small piece of advice I mustered up last week to my grieving friend is something I think we all can benefit from (myself included). One moment, one breath at a time. This is all we ever have in life – this moment, this breath.
Yes, we make plans and think about next week and next month; yet, the only way we ever get to next week or next month is one moment and one breath at a time. I offer you this piece of advice to remember when life throws you the unimaginable (and it will, for sure. It may not be the unimaginable pain that my friend is experiencing, but we all get our version of unimaginable at some point in life). And I offer this piece of advice to you today when you are frustrated in a traffic jam, when your kids won’t listen to you, or when you have zero patience for anything that life is tossing your way today because you didn’t sleep last night.
One moment, one breath at a time. You will get through. Even when you feel like you won’t, just focus on this moment, breathing in and out. As you keep doing that you miraculously will find yourself getting through the days and the weeks ahead.