What to do when life is suffering – a eulogy - The Self-Worth Experiment

What to do when life is suffering – a eulogy

By Dr Berni Sewell | Discover your happiness

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Feb 06
Life is what you make of it - a eulogy

I had big plans for the beginning of 2022: 

  • And start work on a new online course to teach people who suffer with fear and anxiety practical techniques of how to find peace and calm.

And then my Grandma died.

And I found myself travelling to Austria for the funeral instead.

Life is unpredictable. And sometimes things happen that are more important than our plans. Like supporting family during difficult times. Or saying farewell to a loved one.

And it’s vital that we support ourselves while our plans fall apart. That we are kind and patient with ourselves. That we show understanding and flexibility in the light of our ever-changing reality.

I learned many things from my Grandma (we called her "Oma"). Gardening, crochet, cooking, how to respect and accept all of God’s different "dinner guests". But by far the most important wisdom she could have ever bestowed upon me was that life is what you make of it.

Is your life suffering?

You see, throughout her 92-year long life, my Oma’s mantra was: "Life is suffering."

Every day, she would sit in front of the TV, knitting socks, randomly sigh and recite this mantra. I am not even sure she was aware that she was doing it.

And who could blame her?

She started her existence in the world being tossed in a river by a mother who was overwhelmed with the arrival of this new life.

After being rescued and adopted by a local farmer, she experienced a childhood overshadowed by war, hard work and fear.

She had her beloved husband ripped from her life by a tragic work accident when she was 42 years old.

It’s easy to see the suffering when we look back at our lives. Our minds are hard-wired to focus on the negative after all.

And if we aren’t careful, the suffering will take over. Our mind will convince us that "Life is suffering." We will become blind to the blessings and all the good in our lives. We will start to expect catastrophes, we will anticipate pain at every turn.

And the more we look for things, the more they seem to appear in our life.

Just think about it. Have you ever got a new car and suddenly you seem to see other cars of that same make everywhere, even though you never noticed them before? The cars were always there but now that you focus on them, you see them.

And the more we focus on our suffering, the more suffering we will experience. The worse it will seem.

But what if life is suffering right now?

Of course, it can be difficult to think positively when we are stuck in illness, pain and tragedy. It can seem impossible to move out of grief when we lose a dear individual, a home or career.

When we are in the thick of it, life can really seem like suffering.

And sometimes we can’t avoid that. Sometimes we don’t have a choice.

But we must not let our suffering define us. We must not allow our past pain and trauma to ruin our present and future as well as our past.

We cannot live by the mantra that life is suffering. 

Please just take it from my Oma who was a wonderful, kind, loving and caring person. Who allowed the pain of her past to make every experience, every day, every present moment much harder than it needed to be.

It doesn’t matter where you came from. It’s unimportant if your parents were capable of loving and accepting you. It doesn’t matter what you did or what you lost.

Even if it still hurts, it’s in the past. 

And right here and now, you deserve peace, happiness, love. Because you ARE worth.

It's not too late for you and me...

Your past pain doesn’t change anything about this. You are not condemned to a miserable existence because tragedy struck before. You are not cursed.

Life is not meant to be suffering from beginning to end. And the limiting belief that it is, even if it’s based on negative past experiences, will ruin your life if you let it.

It’s too late for my Oma who patiently accepted suffering as her life. 

But it's not too late for you and me to let the past be the past. And to stop allowing it to define who we are, what we believe and how we experience the rest of our lives.

I wish my Oma could have known how infinitely deserving she was of the good in life. I wish she could have changed her mantra from "Life is suffering" to "Life is blessing".

And I wish she would have known her true, inner worth. Which always remains unchanged by past experiences. How much richer, bolder and more joyful her dear life could have been.

Sleep well, Oma. Finally free from pain, fear and limiting beliefs. Life may have seemed like suffering. But you enriched and uplifted the lives of everyone around you.

I love you lots.

Rest in peace, Oma