For those of you who follow the blog on a regular basis you’ll know that I managed to disable my laptop keyboard yesterday by spilling my coffee.
Well, I’m up and running again thanks to the marvels of technology and bluetooth.
And while that might be a tiny blip on the radar for some folks, it’s HUGE for me!
Here’s why: when my son was killed in a random, unpredictable, unanticipated accident nearly eight years ago, I was stripped of any illusion of control. My world-which up to that moment had been fairly predictable-was suddenly chaotic and very, very frightening.
I learned early on this journey that if I was going to survive, I’d have to exercise what psychologists call “agency” even if it was in something as simple as choosing for myself what I’d have for breakfast or finding a workaround for a broken keyboard.
Years ago in my undergraduate studies we read about a famous experiment in which fish were placed in tanks with invisible dividers. At first the fish would try to cross over to the other side of the tank.
But hitting the divider over and over, they soon learned to stop trying.
When the researchers removed the barrier they found the fish still stopped where it used to be and didn’t even try to reach the other side any more.
Traumatic loss can make a heart give up on everything-not just the one or two things that are truly outside our control.
It’s why so many of us bereaved parents find ourselves staring off into space, sitting in a chair, unable to move and do even the simplest tasks.
We aren’t crazy.
We are just conditioned to believe that no matter what we do, it won’t make any difference.
But I’m here to tell you-don’t give up and give in!
It’s absolutely true that we have so. much. less. control than we think we have. Seat belts, good health habits, careful living can’t protect against random.
But there are many ways we can still craft a world where love and light reign.
So today I’m celebrating the fact that while I can’t make the sun come up or protect my loved ones from every unpredictable horror I can choose to DO what I can to shape my sphere of influence and exercise control over some parts of my little world.
If you can’t do it all, do something.
4 thoughts on “The Importance of Agency in Grief”
Your words are so true. Making decisions is so difficult for me right now, and rethinking them goes on and on because I’ve lost trust in my world….🙏🙏🙏
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I am so very sorry for your pain and your loss. Child loss affects so many aspects of how we walk in the world! I had no idea how grief would cast such a shadow over every corner of my life.
Praying that you feel the Father’s loving arms around you and that He fills your heart with His grace, strength and hope. ❤
Melanie, you are a stronger woman than I am. Some days I can’t do anything but look out the window at the birds.