On 8th September 2014, there was a knock on the door! That one from an Army Chaplain and two Army Officers standing there saying, “Mrs Thomas? We are sorry to inform you that your son, Alex has passed away!”
He had been found dead in his bed by a housemate at his home in Brisbane at the age of only 23.
The following weeks and months after this tragedy were overwhelming (understatement) as we seemed to have a fairly constant flow of “uniforms” in and out of our house, being involved in the funeral arrangements, visits from Defence Social Workers, Advisors, Support Staff, dealing with the Coroner, Pathology Lab and God knows who else…it was just never ending and it was mind boggling!
For weeks after receiving the news, I felt like someone had reached into my chest with their bare hands, grabbed my heart and ripped it right out of my body. It was a physical agony that cannot be fathomed unless you experience it for yourself! There have been days and weeks when I felt (and looked like) I had been to the gates of hell and back again. But I still had to get up, dress up and show up every damned day, and try to be strong for everyone around me – my other 3 children, my husband, ex-husband (Alex’s Dad) etc.
Not only was I trying to come to terms with my youngest son’s death, but we also had NO REASON for his sudden death. None! Zilch! No F***ing Idea! Nothing showed up in the autopsy, and we had to wait 6 – 9 months while the Pathologist carried our further investigations and testing, then another month or so for the Coroner to deliver the final findings as to cause of death. Trust me when I say, it’s a whole new kind of Hell – waiting to find out how/why your child suddenly just dropped dead!
On top of that, I was also the Director/CEO of my own company, which we won’t even go into! When you’re living in “nowhere land,” business just doesn’t even compute!
Finally after months of being “strong” (well, pretending to be anyway), working through the business end of things and trying to keep functioning on a daily basis like a “normal” person, I was EXHAUSTED! I was NUMB! I was an EMPTY SHELL! I was experiencing POST TRAUMATIC GRIEF, and I seriously needed to do something! The way I saw it I had 3 choices….
- I could STAY DROWNING where I was in that deep black hole of grief and depression,
- I could STEP OUT of life altogether (you know what I’m saying here), or
- I could STEP UP and work out this new “reality” that had been forced upon me!
What I NEEDED was some f**king time to myself to get my head around it all!!!!! I NEEDED to find some inner peace! I NEEDED something to hang onto and get me through each day, and I NEEDED something to believe in again! I NEEDED TO GET MY SPIRITUAL MOJO ON!
I told the Social Workers, Counsellors, Defence people and everyone else to go away (actually it was more of a F*#K OFF). They weren’t helping – IN FACT, I felt like I was being kept in a perpetual state of grief, just being constantly reminded all the time and them just waiting for me to fall in a heap! I was trying so damned hard to stay positive and focused and just keep going, but in truth…I WAS A MESS!
In those initial days and months of my “healing” my Mind, Body, Spirit Toolbox served me VERY well – and saved both my sanity and my life!
ENTER POST TRAUMATIC GROWTH…
Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) is a documented psychological phenomenon of people becoming stronger and creating more meaningful lives in the face of staggering adversity, tragedy and trauma!
I prefer to liken the PTG phenomenon to Kintsukuroi (pronounced Kin-tsu-ku-roi) – the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of the object, rather than something to cover up or try to disguise.
Instead of the break diminishing the bowl’s appeal, it instils a new lease on life, a fresh sense of vitality and raised appreciation. The bowl has become even more beautiful for having been broken. The true life of the bowl began the moment it was dropped.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY…
We all go through STUFF! We all get BROKEN from time to time! We all have CHOICES to make – about how we react to life’s challenges, and how we choose to move forward from them! The question is, what will we choose? Will we CHOOSE to stay broken and or will we CHOOSE to heal and move forward with a whole new appreciation of life?
MY CHOICE – was to take back control of my life, to heal and move forward with a whole new appreciation of life, and to honour the life and struggles of my son with strength, dignity and grace.
Let me show you how to do the same, and how to Unleash Your Inner Bliss!
❤ Cherene x