My mom loved Jackie Kennedy. For one, they were the same age. Jackie was beautiful, graceful, articulate (and thin – a must for my mother). During President Kennedy’s funeral, which I remember vaguely, my mother commented how dignified Jackie was. Of course, like everyone, I’ve seen the replays of the film with her in her black veil, tearless as John John salutes his daddy’s coffin. When I was in junior high, I remember my mother telling me never to cry over some boy in public. “You come home to cry.” I’m sure this advice stunted my emotional development, but I internalized it big time. When I was 21, I didn’t cry at my mother’s own funeral. I cried every day for a year afterwards but in the privacy of my own home.
As life inevitably left its trauma mark on me as it does on all of us, I came home to cry. When tragedy strikes us, our first reaction is to scream, “Why?” to God or the universe or whomever we scream at when hurting. It’s only with the passing of time, that I realized that for me, I was screaming the wrong question. Even if there were an answer to “Why?”, it wouldn’t take away the pain. We can’t control our first reaction to tragedy. But with time, we can choose our response. What meaning am I going to give this? How am I going to integrate this tragedy into the tapestry of my life. I remember once many years ago when I was seeing a therapist over another difficult time in my life, he suggested, “Maybe everything you’ve gone through is preparation for what’s to come.”
Today, I coach others. Some people have the perception that a coach tells others what to do to “fix” their lives. That is totally wrong. A coach believes that everyone has their own power and ability to create. A coach supports, facilitates, guides and encourages, while leaving the power with the client. And often, the most important role I play is to create a safe place for people to scream, “why?” and then support them as they come to their own “What?” and “How?”