I’ve always been a scaredy-cat when it comes to just about everything.
Getting my ears pierced.
Dancing in front of people.
Getting a tattoo.
And on and on.
But when I experienced the worst pain that has ever happened to me, a new kind of mindset took over. One where I started embracing what made me afraid, and refusing to shy away from things that made me uncomfortable.
Grief gave me a new superpower. FEARLESSNESS!
It all started when I quit my full-time job. Despite working there for nearly 10 years, I was beginning to feel burned out and unappreciated. My director was a classic control freak and she had written me up one too many times for petty infractions. And to top it off, the cold and callous way I was “welcomed” back after being away on bereavement leave was the final straw. Being stuck in a corner by the copier when you once had a nice office with a door was just too much to bear.
I turned in my notice four months after my husband’s death and never looked back.
And do you know what? The trajectory of my life completely changed, and it’s something that I credit to the fearlessness I felt in the aftermath of such an earth-shattering loss.
While I would literally trade every one of my limbs to have my beloved husband back, I’m slowly but surely starting to appreciate this new power that comes with the shitshow that is grief – and that is fearlessness.
On January 1, 2023, I titled this year my “Year of No Fear”, and decided to do everything that takes me out of my comfort zone and helps me carve out the life I want to live.
I’d always dreamed of starting my own business, and Frank’s unexpected death gave me the courage to do that. He supported me in everything I did anyway, so I could just picture him giving me that curved backwards “thumbs up” he was known for and saying, “Go for it, babe!”
I launched Letter10 Design 14 months later and plan to use my business to channel my loss into helping widowed people everywhere. I even received a $15,000 grant to help make that happen.
My fearlessness hasn’t just extended to my career choices either. It has also impacted my relationships.
Frank’s death sparked something inside me that made me realize how fleeting life is. His passing was the catalyst for me living fearlessly, and I started to ask myself hard questions. Like, what are you afraid of? What if your life ends tomorrow, can you honestly say that you’ve done all you wanted to do? And more importantly, are you holding on to people who no longer serve you?
I knew that if could survive losing Frank, I could survive anything, and that meant losing family members whom I’ve known my entire life but chose not to show up for me when I needed them the most. I felt completely alone while I was grieving in those terrible, awful early days of grief.
I also felt afraid, and I didn’t like how that felt.
When we are forced to face our most feared scenario, it completely shifts our perspective and changes our thinking about what we fear. Leaving our jobs, starting a business, ending relationships with unsupportive family members, financial worry – it all just seems so trivial in the face of death. We can overcome any challenge so much more easily when we’ve survived the thing we’ve always feared the most.
And mine was, and has always been, my husband dying before me.
Even me typing that sentence doesn’t feel right and it’s a fact that my brain tries to dispute as the truth every single day. Nineteen months on from Frank’s death, and I’m still astounded it’s real.
But the truth is, I have always felt Frank’s energy and spirit helping me along the way, even though his death changed everything for me.
Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid to take the plunge into uncharted territory like I was in my “before” life.
I told myself, when the worst thing in the world has already happened to you, what have you got to lose?
So, I started taking swim classes at the YMCA.
I’ve done a couple of public speaking occasions. (One of them in front of nearly 50 people!)
I got my first tattoo of Frank’s actual handwriting on my arm.
I flew on a plane by myself to attend Camp Widow in Tampa, Florida.
I became a contributing writer for Hope for Widows.
I got one of my articles published in a magazine.
And there’s more to come. Lots more.
I’m still afraid of dogs, and I haven’t smoked weed yet (and probably never will).
But I’ve learned that the best way to harness this powerful byproduct of grief is to just go for it. Quite often, that means facing your fears and being brave.
I see the world through a whole new lens now, and this choice has felt liberating.
I don’t tolerate crappy relationships. I cherish the people who are in my circle. I focus on the support that keeps showing up, not on who I thought would show up. I see no value in getting caught up in other people’s drama, and for peace I will delete, block, disown, leave, and ignore whoever tries to interrupt it.
In a word, I am FEARLESS. And I’m sure Frank would be so proud of me for living my life authentically.
How has grief made you fearless? Tell me in the comments below.
Let’s keep in touch! If anything resonated with you, please leave a comment or find me on Instagram @tofrankwithlove
** Mark your calendars! **
Hope For Widows Foundation’s annual virtual Widows of Hope 5K event has returned on Friday, May 12 through Sunday, May 14, 2023.
Anyone can join! Whether you are a widow, widower, or a friend/family member showing support or walking in the loss of another family member, everyone is welcome to participate.
The proceeds will directly support widows through the annual financial Restoring Hope and Peace Grants, Sunshine Boxes program, and Bring Hope Holiday Assistance Program.
Do you have or know a business that would like to sponsor? That’s an option too!
To register and frequently asked questions- please go here: http://getmeregistered.com/WidowsofHope5K