This was a hard chapter to read, and as I recall it was a hard one to write.

It tells the story of my relationship with Leah and some of the struggles we had as she was growing up.

I remember when I was writing it that I wanted to be true to the story without sugar coating our struggles. I could feel the dynamic between us back then streaming off the page, as well as how much I wanted to understand what Leah was going through at the time so I could help her make good decisions.

From where I am now, I can more fully see how my own upbringing influenced my approach to mothering, and how it defined what I called my radical nature. To help Leah accept who she was, I needed to accept who I was; the connections between our stories are undeniable.

As I came to own the way I approached life, my radical nature; I also saw that it was the way I approached grief.

Always feeling like I didn’t fit in as I was growing up served me well as I entered mygrief journey. I felt like I was different from everyone else because my daughter was no longer present in my life. The feeling of being different was a familiar one to me, and maybe that’s why grieving for my daughter felt different than I thought it would too. Even as I write those words, I’m not exactly surewhat I mean; maybe I mean that I was more comfortable finding my own way to grieve, which led me to understand that we all grieve in our own unique way.

One of the topics that I frequently talk about with colleagues and clients is the ability to prepare for grief.

We like to be prepared for all things in our life, yet when an unexpected tragedy occurs, we may feel ill prepared to cope with it.

I certainly felt like I wasn’t prepared to face life without Leah’s physical presence in it. At the time I didn’t fully understand what that meant. If I had, I’m not sure what I would have done. I think that’s part of the grace that I received; the complete story of what life would look like would only be revealed as time passed, and I was ready for the next layer. I feel like that is a blessing of the journey, that I was not plunged headfirst into the deep pool of grief with all the stuff all at once, it’s revealed only when I’m ready to meet it. Being ready to meet it also means doing the necessary work during that time.

It’s one of the reasons that grief is a life-long journey.

It’s only after a time that I can acknowledge that I was better prepared than I thought I was. Claiming my radical nature helped me to realize that. I also think that it’s possible to cultivate practices that can help us navigate difficult feelings and experiences when we encounter them.

What has helped prepare you for difficult experiences that you may not have considered helpful until you go through a challenging time in your life?