Keep living until you feel alive again

You will feel better than this. Maybe not yet. But you will. You just keep living, until you’re alive again.

I heard this quote the other day* and it struck a chord with me. The words were spoken on an episode of Call the Midwife** by one of the nuns who was offering comfort to a young woman who had just lost her boyfriend and was going away to grieve.

On one hand, it spoke to me because of my own experiences with grief. I could actually understand what the nun was saying and I knew her words to be true. After all, in those early weeks and months of widowhood, when the world was closing in on me, I had two choices: Keep living, or curl up in a darkened room and die. (I admit that I wanted to do the latter most days!)

And I did keep living and I did feel better and eventually, I felt alive again. (Importantly, I stopped wishing I wasn’t!***)

When I heard those words spoken the other day, I no longer needed the comforting words to help me overcome my grief, which is only a faint shadow in my life now, often hidden from the brightness of life. But I realised that I did need the comforting words to help me overcome my sadness.

Yes, my sadness. Well, it’s not really sadness so much as feelings of stress, loneliness, and (self-imposed) isolation.

You see, several things have happened over the past year that I have yet to fully cope with (in part because I’ve been avoiding them). But my refusal (or inability; I don’t know) to deal with these things means that I’m holding onto these bad things and they’re haunting my dreams. And they’re haunting my waking hours, too.

From letters that brought up memories of the long past to hurtful realisations about other aspects of life, I have been pushing down my emotions in the hopes of forgetting them and moving on.

Only doing that has actually meant that I am walking around with this constant low-level feeling of stress and sadness.

And that stress and sadness mean I am sulking instead of living.

And that sulking means that I am not actually enjoying life or the world around me.

But I’ve been trying to enjoy life and the world around me.

And I’ve been trying to do that because I honestly do believe that the way to really and truly start living and enjoying life and the world around me is to actually participate in it.

There is a part of me that wants to stay home and hide away from everyone I know so that I don’t experience further hurt. There is a part of me that wants to avoid everyone so that I don’t have to risk any more pain.

But, thankfully, there is a bigger part of me that tells that cowardly and silly “self-isolation” part of me to get off the couch and live life.

And now that I have that quote so fresh in my mind, I keep reminding myself that the best way to stop sulking is to start living. And, eventually, I will be so busy living my life and enjoying the world around me that I’ll forget about the sadness and I will feel truly happy and alive again.

I’m looking forward to that day, I really am!

(Don’t worry, I really am working to get out more and to do real things with real people. And it’s helping.)

[Note: I am not suffering from depression. My sadness is very much tied to specific events and is about my inability to cope with them at the moment. I think the problem is that the big “negative” events all happened around the same time, and also at the time that I was dealing with the extreme stress of my UK visas which had to take precedence in the “worry about this” queue. But I’m starting to sort them out now. So that’s good.]

* From Call the Midwife, BBC, aired on 9 February 2014.
** I can’t believe that I’ve been watching this show, let alone quoting from it. I blame my sister-in-law who insisted we watch the Christmas episode when I was down for the holidays.
*** Not in a suicidal way, but in a common grief-filled way of just wanting to be with the spouse you lost, rather than feeling the very real pain of grief.

18 Replies to “Keep living until you feel alive again”

  1. You are the reason a lot of people feel alive. You bring so much happiness to people even if you don’t know it. I hope that you find the kind of joy and happiness you once had and that your life continues to be something you live. You are loved!

  2. When my husband (of 34 years) died, I wanted to curl up and cry forever. Somehow, I kept getting up and making it through each day. When I was watching “Call the Midwife” I heard the quote about living. I felt it was meant for me. Thank you for your courage.

    1. Isn’t it amazing how we manage to survive what seems so un-survivable? The human spirit’s ability to keep going when the world is collapsing around us is amazing. I hope your 34 years of marriage have filled your days with happy memories in amongst the tears.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt this quote was meant for me. And after seeing how often this story is found through other people’s searches, I realise the quote is meant for everyone. For such simple words, they are so powerful; so meaningful.

  3. I’m glad someone else found this quote to be so touching. I just saw this episode of Call the Midwife on Sunday. I’m a relatively new widow (will be 2 years in October) and for second time leading a GriefShare group. I did a google to find the exact words to use at my next session and found you.
    I plan to make a candle bookmark with this quote to help my group continue to heal.

    1. You are certainly not the only one! Since I first posted this story in February, it has received several hits a day from people searching for the quote. And since this episode of Call the Midwife played in the USA over the weekend, this story has been found by more than 300 people all searching for the quote.

      Just goes to show how powerful the words are!

      I am pleased to hear that you’ll be sharing the quote with your grief group. If you don’t mind a bit of “self promotion”, another great piece you might want to share is a story I wrote a couple of years ago relaying an analogy about widowhood being like an amputation. (Amputated at the Heart)

      I will hit my 5-year mark this weekend and am dreading it. Life is mostly good these days, but there are definitely still a few hard moments. But I’ll keep living, and I will keep feeling better.

      Be good to yourself on your journey!

  4. Yes, I too was brought here after watching “to the midwife.” “You will feel better than this. Maybe not yet. But you will. You just keep living, until you’re alive again.”

    1. I wonder if the author’s family know how much positive impact that quote has. Or for that matter, if the quote is from the books or if it belongs to a BBC writer. I should look into that …

  5. I loved this quote, but as I recall it was the elder Ms. Rubin telling the young woman how to survive, as she had, as one of the holocaust survivors. Rarely do I get choked up but this story line was very profound and I will use it with my clients as I am a drug and alcohol counselor.

    Here is one, it may be Dickenson, not sure….

    As it has been and will be until life loseth its breath
    for man, love is just a state of mind
    but for woman
    It is life or it is death.

  6. That episode of Call The Miwife finished 5mins ago in Adelaide South Australia , and I like so many others have found you , from the words of a woman whose life was shattered during WW2 .
    It is over 23 years since a ” hole was left in my soul ” and I can remember waking every morning thinking ” I’m one day closer to feeling better again ” even though I didn’t believe myself at the time . So tonight’s words ’ Keep living untill you feel alive again ’ will resonate for some of us, and yes , you do miraculously feel alive again , in time ……..

    1. A whole in the soul is such a good analogy. As for feeling alive again, I’m glad I do, I just wish that I didn’t revert to feeling empty and dead inside every-so-often. (Those episodes are getting farther and fewer in between, thankfully.)

  7. Wow! I watched this show last night in melbourne for the first time & this quote hit me too!!…so I googled it today & find all this!….amazing how similar we all are really isn’t it…in dealing with grief.

    1. I think one of the reasons I blog about my grief (and other things) is because I’ve found that it helps me to connect with people who’ve dealt with similar emotions. There’s something so comforting in knowing you’re not alone in these emotions. (Though I wish no one had to deal with them in the first place.)

  8. I just stumbled upon this post because I was searching for those words from Call the Midwife, which had the same effect of me as they seem to have had on you. I don’t know you and I haven’t read any other posts (yet) but this one could have been written by me. Every. Single. Word. I hear you. Especially the *** part, which seems to often scare people when you say it out loud. But even that does get better in time (except for some moments when the longing and the sadness washes over you, but those waves pass too). Keep on living, sister.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Sirja! I am so pleased to hear that my words had an impact on you. I find it helpful to know that there are others “like me” … and am always happy to hear others say that it does get (mostly) better! All my best to you!! 🙂

  9. I know this post is years old but I just wanted to share how much those words have impacted my life. I lost my mother unexpectedly at a pivotal point in my life. A few months later this episode aired. I just about lost it throughout this entire episode but, like everyone else, those words struck a chord with me. I think about a year later, I shared them with my dad. He marks that letter I wrote him with those words as a turning point in his grief. These are the words he offers as counsel to those who have experienced a similar loss. They have helped so many people.

    1. Hi, Linden! Thanks for reaching out. Yes, the post is a couple of years old, but the sentiment remains … and based on the number of hits this story gets each week, I’d say the words mean a lot to a lot of people. It’s amazing to me how a few words spoken on a TV show can speak to so many people in such a positive way – especially those who are reeling with grief!

      I hope your Dad’s (and your!) grief is starting to soften a bit. I don’t know if it ever goes away, but from my experiences, I believe that you really do start to feel alive… eventually!

      All my best to you and your Dad,

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