Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
2024 / June


Time may change me

The Retune Blog - 7th June 2024

Often during the week I will hear a piece of music and it will inspire me to contemplate and write. But this week I was totally blown away by something someone shared with me during a 1-2-1 tutorial as part of their life coach training. They were reflecting on their own life, something we do as part of the training, and the impact the tragic death of their son had on them and their family. With their permission (and editorial oversight), I’ll share what they said:

“Then came the realisation that I was missing out on so much joy and happiness by being so detached and gradually the fear in me subsided and I was able to have that loving relationship with my children again, nothing was going to change the loss and devastation I had suffered but I had a choice to make, to live, be happy and love or to stay stuck in that vicious circle.”

As the person shared their experience I was gripped, not just by their honesty, but also their growth, reflection and bravery. They had experienced such a deep tragedy, and knew nothing could ever repair or change that, but had been able to recover the desire to live and love.

The loss of a child creates a deep and resounding change ro which there's no answer or resolution. Yet these words of choice were filled with hope. It reminded me of some research I had undertaken of the power of hope in palliative care. Hope when change is unavoidable and undesired.

As I contemplated the gravity of the idea, the song that kept coming to mind was David Bowie’s Changes:

Turn and face the strange. …Don't want to be a richer man … There's gonna have to be a different man. Time may change me, but I can't trace time.

The change Bowie was facing was in comparison insignificant, it was a time in his career when he was morphing from writing music on the guitar to the keyboard and as a result he was distancing himself from mainstream rock. They were choices he was making and any loss suffered was by choice rather than incident.

Yet the phrase from the tutorial kept coming back; I had a choice to make. As I continue to contemplate the words from the tutorial and the lyrics to the song, I’m challenged that whilst some changes faced in life don’t make us richer in our spirit as humans, we are still always left with the deeply challenging aspect of choice. But that choice is bound by that word I.

One of the Biblical books which influences me most is Job. Job loses his family and his ‘friends’ attempt to support him to look to the future and the choices he can make to ‘move on’. This simply adds to the unbearable nature of the loss. Support and hope in these circumstances is about committed listening, sitting with the person in their pain and being willing to be uncomfortable and allow the person to move at their own pace.

The idea that whatever we face we always have the capacity for choice is something I’m not sure I will ever fully understand, but in its own way it challenges me that whatever I face personally, I need to do so with a committed sense of agency. Something Viktor Frankel reflected on from the concentration camp at Auschwitz as he faced tortuous death and yet chose hope and life. But it also reinforces to me that encouraging change on others, especially when they have experienced grief and loss is not something that should ever be done. Change is something we can only choose for ourselves when we are ready, whatever the challenge is that we face, and not others.

Support for bereaved parents and their families: The Compassionate Friends are a peer network that provides lasting support and resources following the loss of a child of any age. Please consider using or supporting their work.

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Founder and Director of Metanoeo CIC and Metanoeo Coaching. Working with individuals, communities and business to co-create #wellbeing4all through life coaching, resources for living life well and training and supporting life coaches.

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