The gift of resiliency

Cradled upright in their holders, still warm from their “just below the boil” simmer, our soft-boiled eggs waited for the crack of a knife across their 75-degree latitude.

As father and daughter, we sat at the table on Sunday mornings sharing this English breakfast.

I do not remember the last time I sat with my father like this, but I do remember the last time I saw him. It was my first view of death up close — my father on a gurney in the ER. My lips brushed his cooling cheeks as I said goodbye.

I was 26 years old when his third heart attack ended his life. We always lived with his fragile heart, “just below the boil.” We all learned resiliency.

Another 25 years later, I intentionally entered the world of death and dying as a board-certified chaplain, certified spiritual director and labyrinth facilitator. I specialize in supporting the journey through loss, grief and life transitions.

The word “resilient” has been used for 400 years to describe both humankind’s and nature’s ability to recover or rebound from changes ranging from mere setbacks to the traumatic and catastrophic.

The practice of resiliency predates the word assigned to it, and sacred stories and texts from many cultures have examples where resiliency is honored.

One definition says, “Resilience is about getting through pain and disappointments without letting them crush your spirit.”

One rarely becomes resilient overnight. It is acquired through the experience of living. Sometimes it is an overt process as we rally after hardship. Often it is subtle and internal as one chooses to approach each day with positive intent.

In midlife and beyond, we have a deep well of experiences to dip our bucket into when difficulties arise. Being able to look back and say, “I made it through this loss” or “I learned something from that situation, even if I wouldn’t wish it on another,” can affirm your ability to overcome and offer strength for the present moment.

Wisdom acknowledges that life will be different after loss. Can be you be stronger? Yes. Will your perspectives change? Likely. Will the landscape look different? Absolutely.

Like the soft-boiled eggs we shared for breakfast, my father’s fragile heart cracked. But earlier circumstances prepared me for the day I had to say goodbye. I received the gift of resilience, and I carry it in my own heart to this day.

(Anne Richardson is founder of Nurture Your Journey.)

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