“As the legend goes, when the Phoenix resurrects from the flames,
she is even more beautiful than before.” ― Danielle LaPorte
As early as 500 B.C., legends decreed that the ancient mythical creature, the phoenix, a legendary bird, would live for 500 years. Near the end of its life, the phoenix would build a funeral pyre for itself, and as it began to die, it would lay down on the wood and burst into flames, consumed by the fire. Immediately the phoenix would re-emerge, renewed from the purifying ashes, more beautiful and regal than before, and live for another 500 years until the process would repeat perpetually. The symbolism of the phoenix, is legendary. The Greeks named it the phoenix, but it is associated with the Egyptian Benu bird, the Jewish Milcham, the Persian Simurgh, the native American Thunderbird, the Russian Firebird, the Chinese Feng Huang, and the Japanese HoHo bird. No matter what the culture, the phoenix or a similar avian-type figure, remain a symbol of resurrection after loss.
For me, the phoenix has become a symbol of transformation in grief. After Peter died, I was engulfed in the flames of sorrow. I was consumed by the power of the inferno of pain and I burned with grief. Actually, I was burned out by grief! The thought of rising from the ashes of devastation was unfathomable. The darkness descended and all pleasure was erased from my life. Everyday chores became insurmountable. I had lost all joy and happiness. I knew I had to find the courage to channel my inner-phoenix and rise triumphantly – or at least, rise to the best of my abilities -- from the ashes of grief.
My transformation was not instantaneous by any means. Bit by bit, piece by piece, building block by building block, I began to emerge from the fires of devastation. I devoured books on grief looking for answers and finding others in the same boat which brought a modicum of relief. I asked for help, I got support, and I began to perform spiritual alchemy, to transmute my negatives into positives. I learned that by writing and helping others, I could emerge from the ashes by doing something meaningful with my life. I didn’t just want to survive grief which has pejorative vibes. Surviving was not enough for Laurie. I wanted to transform my pain and find a purpose for living again. I wanted to find happiness, wonder, pleasure, and more importantly, I wanted to be able to say I experience joy again. I wanted to honor Peter in the only way I knew how, by living a life worthy of him. Creating meaning from loss is my resurrection from the debris of my heartache.
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