Through unimaginable heartache and pain, Ashley has found peace and even joy after embarking on a journey of true healing that she is now sharing in her book I Am Here: The Journey from Fear to Freedom.
I recently got to speak with Ashley on my Parenting Great Kids Podcast. I encourage you to listen to the full episode here, but here are a few thoughts Ashley shared on how to process grief, move forward, and start rebuilding your life.
Ask What’s Beneath the Fear
“When we lost our older two kids, I spent most of my waking hours in fear,” says Ashley, “and it was fear I was never going to see my kids again. It was fear that I failed as their mother. It was fear that they don’t know if I love them.
“One day I was driving home from a therapy session, and I saw a little girl who looked like my little girl, and I had to pull over on the side of the road because I just broke down. I missed her so much, I didn’t know how to keep moving or breathing through that…I had this little thought: What if it’s not just fear?
“What I realized was that a profound sense of love was really driving my feelings. Deeper than the fear is this positive emotion I can anchor to instead of anchoring to the fear because when I anchor to the fear, it robs me of all my power, all my energy…but if I can anchor myself to love, then that’s a power source, then it feeds me. It allows me to keep moving forward.”
Embrace Your Pain; Don’t Run from It
“For a long time, I thought I could outrun the grief and the sadness,” says Ashley. But she’s learned “you can’t outrun it. Instead, you have to learn how to sit with it and figure out steps moving forward.
“The things that have happened are a part of us. It’s how we’re becoming who we are, and I think we do a disservice to ourselves if we keep trying to outrun the hard things in our lives.”
Instead, she says to ask yourself, “How can I embrace it, not in a way that keeps me buried but in a way that teaches me, in a way that allows me to view other people in the world more compassionately? Our past can serve our present, which can then serve our future.”
Reimagine Your Future
Ashley says, “The best part of hitting rock bottom is there’s only a way back up, and on your way back up, you get to choose what you invite back into your life.”
Ashley started a daily meditation process where she asked herself five questions, the first of which was, What is my intention today? At first, she says, her intention would be something simple like taking a shower and getting dressed for the day. But her intentions began to grow and as they did so did her purpose.
“Going from being an active mom to elementary school-aged kids to being in a childless, quiet, sad house made me feel like I was the least purposeful human on planet earth. I didn’t know why I was alive anymore,” says Ashley. By creating a simple intention for each day, she was able to eventually find purpose and reimagine her life.
Today, Ashley leads a thriving online community of women called The Shine Project, a community where women can find support, resources and motivation to achieve their dreams and shine.
I highly recommend you check out this community as well as Ashley’s book I Am Here. And don’t forget to listen to my full conversation with Ashley and share it with any grieving parents you know.
If you’re a struggling parent seeking community, I also encourage you to check out my online parenting community Parenting Great Kids (PGK). Click here to join. When you become a member, you get access to all of my parenting courses as well as our message board where you can post your toughest parenting questions. Nobody should have to parent alone. Join PGK today!