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March 25, 2019

A Grieving Woman And This Rap Artist Have a Lot to Teach Us

Our cat, who is unsuitably named Bear, limped into the house one morning gingerly holding his front paw in the air. He allowed me to stroke his fluffy black fur, but growled when I tried to touch his paw, which was dangling at an awkward angle. The morning this occurred, we were already dealing with broken heat ducts (brrrr!), a newly discovered rat infestation under our house (gross) and hosting for the holidays (nuff’ said). So, amidst the chaos, I begrudgingly took Bear to the vet. Even though he clearly wasn’t fulfilling his end of the bargain, given the rat situation.

While flipping through magazines in the waiting area of the vet’s office, I noticed a woman quietly crying across the room. I heard her tell the administrators she just wanted to be close to her dog for a little while longer. Watching her in obvious pain, I thought about the sadness of losing a pet, especially over the holidays. She seemed consumed with grief.

Shortly thereafter, we were called into the examination room and I was told Bear’s paw was most likely not broken and we could go home. As I wrapped up payment and paperwork and chatted with the lady at the front desk, the distraught woman in the waiting room suddenly looked up at me and said; “Are you Vanessa Loder?”

“Umm, yes,” I replied. She went on to tell me that she’d listened to my 30 Day Meditation Challenge and had recognized my voice from across the lobby. We began chatting and she told me her beloved dog was not going to make it. I gave her a hug and did my best to comfort her. We both remarked on what a strange coincidence it was that we’d run into each other in these circumstances. As we hugged goodbye, I said something along the lines of; “Things will get better.” She nodded meekly.

And that’s when it hit me; we often gloss over grief, wanting to fix things or move through it quickly because it’s painful and uncomfortable. I remembered some wise words I’d heard from Esther Hicks, who said we often tell other people to feel better because we can’t handle their discomfort.

In that moment, I decided to make a different choice.

I turned back to the woman and said; “Screw that. Our society doesn’t honor grief enough, and I’m sorry I just gave you some platitude about things getting better.”

Then, I looked her straight in the eye with my hands on my heart and said; “I honor your grief,” as I sort of bowed down before the pain she was experiencing. She burst into tears, nodding her head again and again as the tears rolled down her cheeks.

Leaving the vet’s office that day, I was reminded of another story Esther Hicks shared at an event in California. She talked about how one day, she had a strong impulse to rearrange the furniture in her house. It was too big for her to move, so she hired some guys to come over the next day and move it. Then she began experimenting with her sound system, which she’d never used before. She pushed a default button labeled “classical music” and played around with the different speakers in her house, moving from room to room. Then she saw a button that said; “rap,” and wondered what that was, so she pushed it. Rap blasted through all the speakers in her home, and she started dancing around.

The next day, the movers came to rearrange her furniture. She struck up a conversation with one of the young men, and he mentioned that he was about to move to New Orleans to attempt a career as a rap artist. Esther said; “wait here,” quickly went into the other room and pushed a button. Suddenly, rap blared from every speaker in the house.

The young man gaped at her in surprise. As they talked more, he asked what she did and she told him about being a teacher and the power of the law of attraction to manifest your desires. She gave him some advice and he left with one of her CDs.

After the young man left, Esther realized it was never about moving the furniture. The whole reason she’d had the impulse to rearrange her furniture was so she could meet that young man. That was what the Universe was teeing up for her.

Leaving the veterinary office that chaotic holiday morning, I felt like I was meant to meet that woman. It wasn’t about Bear’s paw, it was about learning to be a witness to grief. And the joy that comes from a random, serendipitous encounter. I had been feeling a little discouraged about my work, and bumping into this woman in the lobby of the vet’s office also gave me the gift of hope and validation. That I should keep going, that my work was impacting people.

Sometimes, chance encounters are not chance at all. There is a greater, more mysterious plan at work. And when we open to the possibility of this mysterious plan, we experience a much more expansive, loving and connected existence.

Photo Credit: Alyssa Stevenson

About Vanessa

Vanessa Loder is a women’s leadership and mindfulness expert, keynote speaker and energetic sparkplug committed to creating a world that redefines power as we know it. She’s been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, the Huffington Post and Glamour Magazine. Her Tedx talk “How To Lean In Without Burning Out” has over 125,000 views.

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