Grief Completely Sucks–Until You Find the Collateral Beauty

This weekend my daughter and I re-watched Will Smith’s movie, Collateral Beauty. It's about grief and the devastation that loss leaves in its path. I know, it doesn't sound very uplifting, but in many ways it is. If you haven’t seen this movie, please do…Smith is amazing in this movie. You’ll find it reminiscent of “A Christmas Carol,” but who doesn’t love that old classic?

The first time I saw it, I really didn’t give much thought to the movie's name, or the statement made by a key character in reference to losing a loved one: “Make sure to notice the collateral beauty.” Beauty resulting from a painful loss? Can there be such a thing? One might initially be incensed by such a suggestion, but in healing there is beauty. And yes, we might even find the beauty in the otherwise heart-breaking consequences of loss.

I’ve experienced a number of seemingly insurmountable losses, as many of us have. While drowning in the darkness and isolation in the months that followed, I made a commitment to myself, and to the beloved person who was no longer at my side. I refused to allow the pain associated with their death become the main focus, rather than the impact they’d had on my life. I would, in some way, honor them and the time we had together. I would find what I can now see as the collateral beauty.

When my husband died only 3 weeks after our twin daughters turned 8 years old, I began journaling. Putting words to my feelings, fears, and loneliness helped me experience my grief in a healing way, rather than continually wallow in it. Journaling led to a practice of gratitude–and eventually the study of spirituality and metaphysics. Over the years I evolved into a stronger, more intentional and peaceful individual. I noticed the beauty in things I’d never seen before. I saw life in variations of color, instead of black or white. And, after a 10-year study of life, mindset mastery, and spirituality (one that will never end) I became a coach who would help people through challenges of their own.

Prior to my husband’s death I did what people do: work, parent, love, and hope. After his death, I learned to live through my heart, speak from my wisdom, and rely on my unshakable faith. Eventually, I would help others do the same.

We all must grieve in our own way, on our own timeline. No one can tell us what will happen in the months and years to come, but we get to make some healing choices when we’re ready.

There is collateral beauty, and perhaps simply knowing that can bring us through those moments of excrutiating  grief. It can give us something to hold on to, beyond memories of the past—because, it’s the future that brings hope and new beginnings.