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Have you ever experienced a heart splitting, mind bending, reality blowing loss? The kind of loss that profoundly and forever changes the course of your life and alters your thinking forever?

I hope you haven’t.

I have.

When my mother died suddenly and most unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm, my life changed forever, in part because my family changed forever. And, shortly after her death, my husband and I moved over eight hundred miles away from what was left of our family, which only widened the gap created by her loss.

I think about the loss of my mother for the obvious reasons. I miss her. But, I also think about this loss because this loss redefined how I see life. It striped me of any innocence I might still have had left that life isn’t cruel.

Of course, life isn’t always cruel. But when it is, it is brutal. It shows no mercy. It acts without compassion, striping us of peace and destroying our hope, forcing us to face the most difficult of challenges…how to rebuild.

How do you rebuild once you realize on the most acute level that life does not cherish us, the way we do it?

The answer is simple. Acceptance.

We cannot change our unbalanced relationship with life. Life is mysterious. It is  predictably unpredictable. It gives and it takes at will. We have very little sway over its whims.

So, our only true course is to accept this and in the process of our acceptance, strive to keep an open heart because even though life can be cruel, it does bestow certain gifts as long as we make room for them.

One of these gifts is choice and choice gives us perspective. Perspective moves us toward acceptance of the things we cannot change and acceptance gives us peace.

We can dwell in life’s cruelty or we can rejoice in its bounty. When we rejoice in life’s blessings, we are happier but the loss we feel is also more profound. That’s the trade off we must grapple with.

To live a life well lived, is to allow pain.

To live a life well lived, is to welcome its limits.

To live a life well lived, is to be open to change.

To live a life well lived, is to appreciate its most humblest of gifts.

To live a life well lived, is to embrace that life is inscrutable.

To live a life well lived, is to accept our lack of control.