Yes. You read the title correctly: When life gives you lemons, cut open an onion. This thought came to me a couple of weeks ago, after I thought of the well-known expression, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This optimisim has been passed down for generations, a cliche recognized by nearly everyone. The assumption being that we can turn something sour into something sweet, that we can create something positive from something negative. And, we can! Absolutely. Uniquivocably.
As you know, I’ve spent the past twenty years learning how we go about making lemonade from lemons. What ingredient is it that enables some of us to overcome extreme adversity, to move forward and live a fulfilling life, even after catastrophe that leaves others suffering a lifetime of void? How do we overcome tragedy?
What I know for sure is that we must grieve our losses. Period. And, everyone grieves differently. As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross discussed in her Five Stages of Grief, each person’s response to loss will be different, the depth of each grief stage will vary, as will the order of the its elements. Some of us will be depressed for longer periods of time, while our anger is short-lived. Others of us will be pissed off to near epic proportions, while our sadness is seemingly fleeting. Regardless, the process of grief exists. It moves. It changes. And we adapt.
I have managed to come to terms with my son’s death. I do not feel it holds me back in any way. Though I have attained success with regard to the loss of my child, I have come to realize in recent years that this understanding is not a blanket accomplishment, it is not an absolute. In order for me to continue to grow as an individual, I have many more lessons to experience and to learn from, in my lifetime. When faced with future losses, I will need to grieve. I will need to mourn the absence of something important to me.
I will need to cry. That, my friend, is where the onion comes in. You see, so many of us are indoctrinated into believing we must “suck it up,” not cry, to “look for the silver lining,” and to “make lemonade” when life presents us with unfortunate or tragic circumstance. Hogwash!
We must first mourn our losses. To grow, we must acknowledge what is missing from our lives, and learn to live differently than we are accustomed. As inspiring as it is to think about turning lemons into sweet, thirst-quenching splendor, we must first pay homage to the work behind the beverage. We must pick or purchase the lemons, wash away the dirt and grime, squeeze the juicy life out of them, then discard the seeds and thick outer layers.
So, next time life gives you lemons: cut open an onion or two, have yourself a good ‘ole nourishing cry, then begin the tedious process of making your own lovely life.
p.s. I’d love for you to share your thoughts with me! Post one here or send a message. 🙂