I recently read that, “Why is this happening?” is the most useless question in the Universe to ask, in relation to circumstances we experience.
“What?” as in “What do I choose now?” is the question we should be asking and the one that empowers us most.
I am a big advocate of self-reflection. It is the best way to become aware of our own values, beliefs, and our attitudes towards others. Self-reflection is a powerful way to give us insights into who we are and why we behave the way we do.
With each exercise of self-reflection, we are presented with an opportunity to make different choices next time and to continually choose who we are going to be in the world.
The problem seems to arise when we beat ourselves up over our actions or should all over our decisions.
Why didn’t I … Why wasn’t I … How could I have … If only I’d … I should have …
OMG, I’m a horrible person!
When someone close to us dies, it’s so easy to ask, ‘Why did this happen?’ or better phrased ‘Why me?!’ ‘I’m a good person, I looked after my child, I loved them, I made sacrifices, I worked hard to meet their needs…’ – it can go on and on.
In this space, ‘Why did this happen?‘ is also one of the most confronting questions a person can ask and the answers we receive will largely dictate how we feel about ourselves and others moving forward.
When Ben died, I wanted answers.
I wanted to know how this had happened and why.
I wanted to make sure it never happened again to another family.
And I never wanted to meet another mother who had lost her child because of something that could have been prevented.
Sometimes answers create more questions and, in my case, the more answers I got, the more incomprehensible the circumstances became and the more I hurt.
Here’s the thing.
Sometimes the answers don’t matter.
They don’t change anything.
And they NEVER bring our people back to us.
I was asked very early on if I would do anything different in relation to Ben, knowing what I know today. My answer is still ‘No’.
It’s only with the benefit of hindsight, extra information, and new knowledge that we can make different decisions.
Life is short and we need to live every day without regrets. We can’t change the past, what happened 5 minutes ago, 5 months ago, or 5 years ago. We CAN choose what we do next though.
We don’t know when our time is up and tomorrow may be too late to tell that person you love them or appreciate them in your life.
Sure, you can put it off if you want to, but before you do, ask yourself this ‘If anything happens, will I have any regrets?’
Ben and I had arguments just like every other parent and child. We yelled at each other and cried in frustration. But we also had an unspoken rule that one of us would always make amends within a few minutes or so of the disagreement.
If we argued on the way to school, he would message me before class, or I would message him when I got to work and make sure we were both okay.
The irony is that we did this was just in case anything happened to either one of us, and we didn’t want our last words together to be angry ones.
I had no clue at the time how important this simple but deliberate habit would turn out to be.
I dropped Ben off for a haircut on that Tuesday and as he got out of the car I said,
“Have a great haircut and a great shift, I love you”. “Thanks mum, love you too”.
… and that was that.
This conversation will remain one of the most important ones I will ever have in my life and the one I am most grateful for. But I never knew it at the time. We don’t always know how our actions will affect others and we don’t always appreciate the impact of our words.
Some time ago, I had the privilege of connecting with a very special woman.
I smiled as the tears rolled down my cheeks and she relayed her story to me. I quickly realised this woman was the last person to spend real time with Ben.
As I listened to their interactions from that afternoon, I felt, and still feel, an overwhelming sense of gratitude towards her. Words cannot describe how it feels to know that Ben was with someone who was kind to him, who encouraged him, and who cared about him.
At the time, she couldn’t have known how important her actions would be, and how much of a difference they would make to a mother she didn’t even know.
Is there a better story to highlight the importance of being kind to others?
We can spend large chunks of our lives and huge amounts of time focussing on things we cannot change and things that really don’t matter. I have come to realise that this energy is better spent on making a difference, and making the little bit of time we have, count.
When all is said and done, it will always come down to two small but important decisions.
What do we do to make a difference? and how do we make others feel?
Dalya xx 💙