BY KIM GILES When you experience a tragedy, or know someone who is, it can touch your heart in a profound way. It is then that tragedy and the pain become very personal. These experiences of loss change your world. The world is a different place and there is great pain associated with that reality. Along with the pain, during these times of grieving, you will also experience tender feelings of love. If there is a death, these feelings will extend toward the people who are gone and toward the people around you. Your feelings of love for family and friends will be more poignant and heartfelt than the love you usually feel. You may feel prompted to express these feelings more freely. This heightened sense of love, which follows experiences of tragedy, is an amazing and beautiful thing and it can often change how you feel about many of the people in your life. Many people find that forgiveness is easier while they are experiencing the unique love associated with losing a loved one. Things that mattered before may not seem to matter any more. People may seem more important than issues and it may seem easier to see the good than the bad in the people around you. Tragedy brings with it deep feelings of love for all the people in your life. Think back to the months following 9/11. Do you remember how connected you felt to your fellow Americans? Do you remember how suddenly our differences seemed smaller and the things we had in common seemed bigger? Think about the sense of connection you felt toward the miners in Chile or the people of Japan after the earthquake and tsunami. We all experienced a deeper love for our fellow human beings during these events. When tragedy strikes, you experience more love for your fellow human beings. You are reminded of the connection we share and the value of your relationships in general. When someone you know dies, even if it is just an acquaintance or someone you met only a few times, it is still a deeply personal loss and the feelings of love for that person and others are very real. You may experience feelings of love toward this person you didn’t realize you had. You may be puzzled at the depth to which the loss is affecting you. You may be curious as to what this poignant emotion is all about. It is about the expression of the love inside of you. The raw emotion you feel while grieving is an expression of your love for all the people in your life. Pay attention to this feeling — it is amazing and beautiful. Remember that the pain of loss is tied to the wonder of love. If you didn’t love so deeply, it wouldn’t hurt this much. Celebrate the love. Celebrate the fact that you can experience love in this way. Funerals can be a wonderful experience because we gather in sadness, but also in love for the deceased and each other. The power of our combined love and heightened sense of connection create an amazing spirit there that heals us and comforts us like no other experience can. When you are in this place, pay attention to what you are feeling. Sit with your emotions a bit, and let yourself feel the wonder of love. In Russ Njust’s new novel, "The Alabaster Garden," he writes, “In our struggles to know, to obtain and to become more than we believe we are, many of us have lost sight of our kinship to all life. We have thereby lost touch with the one thing in our beings that truly sees everything in the light of love.” We often get so busy with the duties and obligations of life, we forget about the deep love that connects us. It often gets set aside. Tragedy, though terrible and painful, can bring these feelings of love back into your life. My suggestion, in times of tragedy, is simply this: Focus on the feelings of love and love deeply! Love everyone in your life, in whatever way you can. Treasure every moment you are alive and able to love. Make sure everyone in your life knows how you feel about them and be the love everywhere you go. Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book “Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness” and a coach and speaker.
about the author
Lizzy Smith was diagnosed with myeloma in 2012 at age 44. Within days, she left her job, ended her marriage, moved, and entered treatment. "To the extent I'm able, I want to prove that despite life's biggest challenges, it is possible to survive and come out stronger than ever," she says.