How Our Family’s Most Difficult Time Taught Me Hope
Grief is a kind of pain that no one ever wants to experience. Even when we’re aware that life isn’t certain and anything can happen, no one is ever really ready for grief, or ready to suffer a loss, and there’s no graceful way to deal with it. It’s where the smooth ride ends, and the rough road begins. It makes you wonder if you will ever get to the other side and feel happy again.
10 years ago, my family experienced great grief and suffering. My father and I lived through an F4 tornado that swept through our hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
People say that after a storm comes a calm. But we were faced with another storm just a few weeks later, an emotional storm. My sister’s cancer took over her. She passed away at 23 years old.
How do you move on from something that destroyed you?
How do you muster the will to still live on? It’s a wonder how my father overcame such a devastating experience. On this week’s podcast, my father Chris Gordon unwraps the story of how he dealt with the weight of losing one of his daughters just after losing his home.
My sister Anna had the most difficult form of cancer. We could only pray for her circumstances to change and rely on the skills of the medical professionals who were helping her. Other than that, we had no control over how her treatments would turn out.
Makes you wonder “Why do people still pray for miracles to happen in a hopeless situation?” My dad perceived prayer as a powerful practice that can improve a person’s state of mind, attitude, and consciousness. Prayer is a manifestation request, and an expression of hope.
“God never came to me in a lightning strike. No unearthly miracle like the burning bush. God came to me in the form of another person, a person actually doing something for my benefit that wasn’t required for their benefit.
God came through a 12-year-old girl, knitting purses and selling them on the weekend for the cause and for Anna’s fund. Neighbors and friends helping me after the tornado hit, when I couldn’t even help myself. God was helping me, providing for me, saving me through these people, people who selflessly set aside their comfort and chose to act.” – Chris Gordon
Hope comes in different forms
The help we got from people taught us to receive, and by “receive” I don’t mean saying “thank you,” but instead, it’s what we learn after receiving what we’ve hoped and prayed for. It’s learning “I want to be like that. I want to help others.”
Being a blessing to someone else is being willing to hope, to help, to be kind, to do what you can to relieve suffering.
“Life and death are peaceful. Being born is a holy thing. It’s a smell of wonder, an energy around you that came from somewhere else. When you exit this life, it’s the same thing. All that energy goes outside the door and moves somewhere else. What’s left is the glove, the shell you’re in.” – Chris Gordon
When Anna drew her last breath, she was proof that death wasn’t at all like what people usually perceived it to be. Most people say that death is something destructive, violent and unfair. When death comes, it’s actually peaceful.
Hope isn’t unconditional
Being with Anna during her battle with cancer taught me a kind of hope that isn’t conditional, but rather, a hope that stays with me, no matter what happens. Being hopeful doesn’t have to stop when things don’t go our way, or if we were let down by an outcome we didn’t desire. Instead, we need to strengthen our hopefulness when we’re faced with adversity. It’s the only way we can move forward and be whole again.
When life becomes difficult, we have two choices: HOPE or DESPAIR. Always choose to hope.
My dad’s book “Love Letters” is a compilation of his understanding on the courage, wisdom and helpfulness that life’s difficulties have taught him, and how choosing to hope can help you overcome such situations. You can purchase his book HERE. All proceeds will be donated to the Anne E. Gordon Memorial Endowed Scholarship at the University of Alabama.
Listen to the full podcast episode HERE.
When we become wiser on how to take care of ourselves, we inevitably become equipped to do that for others. Join The Coachable Masterclass on Identity. It’s a FREE workshop where you can become a happier, more confident, and more successful you in 90 minutes. Register here for the Coachable Masterclass: Identity