Resilience. Really?

Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive. ~ Jamais Cascio

I like this thought: “Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. The goal of resilience is to thrive.”

I don’t like this thought: “Resilience is bouncing back from adversity.”  When we lose a family member or friend, the suggestion that I should bounce back is almost insulting to me.  In my way of thinking, bouncing has to do with trampolines or playground balls, fun stuff.  Bouncing happens immediately when a person lands on a trampoline or a playground ball hits the pavement.  I will lay this out there: grief is NOT fun.  To work through grief and all its various facets takes a lot of hard work.  It’s not immediate.

But it is overcoming the unexpected.

To consider the goal of resilience is to be able to thrive in our lives once again can seem disrespectful to those whom we’ve lost.  But is it? This was a big question as we sat around the table and discussed the possibility of thriving once again.  What helped me get over the feeling that I would be disrespecting my father, disrespecting my son, and disrespecting my husband was to “put myself in their shoes.”  I asked myself, “If I were the one who was gone, would I want my friends and family moping around in grief and sadness, unable to do anything meaningful again, unable to laugh again?”  My answer was a resounding, “No!”  So, since I had given myself permission to thrive, based on the character of my lost loved one, I began to pursue overcoming the grief related to their deaths.

But how do we develop greater resilience?  We need to remember the times we were overwhelmed, the times when we didn’t think we could make it through sorrow, the times when we believed there was no way to overcome the situation because everything seemed out of our control, yet we overcame, and we came back stronger.  We do this one day at a time. And, if we miss a day of reminding ourselves of our successes, we begin again the next day, and the day after that.  We tell ourselves, “I overcame that adversity, I can overcome this one too!” 

Gratitude helps us do that – it rewires our brains to have a more positive outlook.  Authenticity also helps us do that – we figure out who we are once again.  Creativity helps us do that too – we can look at the obstacle of grief from a different angle and find new ways to “attack” the adversity of grief.

So, let’s build resilience, one day at a time, one memory of how we’ve overcome at a time, one statement to ourselves that “I overcame that adversity, I will overcome this too!” at a time.

Blessings on your journey,



Written by Cindy Bratton

Most people are never blessed to the degree that I have been. I’m a retired educator and a retired missionary now embarking on my third career: CEF (Chief Encouragement Officer) of the Live With Grace Initiative. You might ask, “A third career?” However, my question is, “How could I not?” Here’s a little of my story: On September 7, 2017, my husband, Dana, was diagnosed with Fronto-Temporal Dementia (think Bruce Willis). By the middle of 2018, I fully realized what this diagnosis meant – all dementia is terminal, and FTD is no exception. The illness can progress at various rates; seven years after diagnosis is the average life expectancy for FTD. I had to learn how to be an excellent caregiver. Over the course of the next 34 months, I would slowly lose my best friend, my lover, my ministry partner, and my “partner in crime.” 16 months after Dana’s diagnosis, I experienced my second significant loss. On December 31, 2018, our youngest son took his own life. This was a total shock to everyone. The grief was almost unbearable. By January 24, 2019, Dana began a series of hospitalizations due to the rapid progress of FTD, largely attributable to his rightful emotional response to our son’s death. In the spring of 2019, I began having several rounds of excruciating pain, which my Primary Care Physician (PCP) brushed off. However, to shut me up, he ordered blood testing which showed my Rheumatoid Factor nearly 34 times what is considered normal. By early December I was diagnosed with moderately severe Rheumatoid Disease (sometimes called Rheumatoid Arthritis). So, yet another loss in my life: this time it was my own health. Three losses in 27 months. By some miracle, my husband was discharged from long-term care on March 9, 2020, just days before everything shut down due to COVID-19. Yes, he was wheelchair-bound and needed 24/7/365 care, but he could make his own transfers from bed to wheelchair, to chair, to shower, and back again. On June 28th of that year, things had opened up a bit and we celebrated our 45th anniversary by renewing our vows at church. On July 9, 2020, Home Health came for their regular visit. Dana’s O2 Sat. was 78%, and it couldn’t be raised with deep breathing. The nurse got us an immediate appointment with his PCP. I was instructed to call the office when we got into the parking lot to confirm the office was empty, just in case Dana had COVID-19. The doctor was unable to get his O2 up with his resources and said he had to go to the Emergency Room. “OK,” I said, “I’ll take him there.” The doctor said he needed to be transported via ambulance, and the ambulance was called. Our hugs and kisses before Dana was loaded into the ambulance gave the EMTs great concern. Little did I know those would be the last hugs and kisses we would ever share. He got to the ER about 11:30 a.m.; at about 1:30 p.m. I got the call confirming the diagnosis of COVID-19. 13 days later his organs would completely shut down, I gave permission for him to have the ventilator removed, and he was gone. This was my fourth major loss within 34 months. In the prologue to the second edition of Grieve With Grace, Pastor Lee Strawhun speaks of grief upon grief, of compound grief. This is exactly what I had experienced in 34 short months: The loss of my husband’s health to FTD; the loss of our son’s life to suicide; the loss of my good health to degenerative Rheumatoid Disease; and the loss of my husband’s life to COVID-19. After my husband passed from FTD, which COVID-19 hastened, I found myself in the position of being able and desiring to facilitate my church’s grief recovery ministry. It was in that grief recovery program that I met Eric. He attended the support group after the death of his beloved Jan, and at one point gave me an early copy of Grieve With Grace long before it went into print. My reaction upon reading it was, “Wow! How did you take the way I processed my grief and so expertly turn it into an acronym?” The acronym of GRACE encompasses Gratitude, Resilience, Authenticity, Creativity, and Empathy. We came to the same conclusions by slightly different paths and using slightly different descriptors, but the conclusions were the same. From that point on, we became collaborators on this project, Grieve with Grace. I immediately decided it could be a seven-week follow-up to our original thirteen-week recovery program which brought participants to a place of accepting their loss. An additional seven weeks so those who are grieving can begin to move forward, pursuing a life of meaning and purpose, thus honoring their loved ones. I envision a future where Grieve With Grace will be used by grief counselors to guide thousands – no, millions – into lives full of meaning and purpose as they step forward with Gratitude, Resilience, Authenticity, Creativity, and Empathy. I am honored to share my thoughts with you all and please remember, I am always just one click away:) Cindy



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