Even though death can turn our lives upside down, it can also change us. After her aunt Judy died in a terrible accident, author Sarah Miller did very well.
Her book, “Permission to be Happy,” is a guide for people who are also trying to make sense of the chaos in the world. It gives real-world advice on how to change your situation.
For the Surrey-based mother of two, who works as a “life-stylist” (something between a personal stylist and a life and health coach) and writer, it helped her get back on her feet after she lost everything when she left her marriage right before she turned 40 and started a new life adventure.
She thinks that the challenge this gave her was worth it now, and she wants to share what she has learned with everyone.
Sarah wrote in the book, “This book is dedicated to my wonderful, inspiring, and a little bit crazy auntie, Judy.”
Your death gave me permission to be happy, so I’m living my life to the fullest to make up for the life you no longer get to live.’
It is meant to give people a new lease on life.
Sarah put it best when she said, “While you are focused on the plates up in the air spinning dangerously, you forget that there is a life to live.”
“not just “put up with” or, in my case, “suffered.”
It’s there to be lived in all of its amazing glory, which is your dream life with some seriously shiny bells on it, because what’s the point otherwise?!
“It is my mission to show you that none of this is true and that we are all, in fact, deserving of happiness. We can only be our true selves when we accept this.”
Research backs this up. For example, American psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun wrote about “post-traumatic growth,” which is the idea that painful events like death and divorce can help us change and become a better person in the long run, even though they hurt a lot at the time.
Dr. Emma Kavanagh, a psychologist, says this about the situation: “Many studies agree that trauma can lead to growth in different parts of our lives, such as a greater appreciation for life, a change in our priorities, warmer and more intimate relationships with others, a greater sense of personal strength, the realization of new possibilities or paths in life, and spiritual growth.
“The Pollyanna-ness of this idea might make you want to laugh at it, but research shows that it deserves to be taken seriously.
Sarah told the Mirror that her shy, quiet aunt Judy, who didn’t always go after what she wanted, made her want to make sure she got what she wanted.
She had an odd life. She never really did what her heart told her to do, and she was always worried about things she didn’t need to be worried about.
“Our personalities were very similar. She was very sensitive and easily upset, but she also had a great sense of humor, was great at sports, and had a close group of friends who she cared deeply about.
But she never really accepted who she was.” She hid by working.
“But that was her cover story all the time, because she was working. She quit her job so she could live more fully, but almost right away she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and she died.
“She told me that she died from stress, which I could see and understand. It upset me so much to see someone work themselves to death for no clear reason.
“I think she was really trying to hide from life because she thought people wouldn’t like her if she was who she wanted to be.”
She also said, “When I was in such a mess after my divorce and had lost all the structure of my life and was chronically ill with two little girls to care for, what I needed was a blueprint to show me how to put my life back together.
But in a way that fit with who I was so I wasn’t constantly stressed doing things I hated and making myself sicker because I didn’t have time for that!”
“That’s what I needed, but I couldn’t find it, even after going to therapy, hiring life coaches, etc.,” he said. “So I made a system that would work for each person and lead them back to happiness.”
“Life is about finding a fulfilling and purposeful way to live, but as a generation, we’re so overwhelmed by how fast the hamster wheel is going that we forget to keep our values and boundaries in place.
Then, as we continue to hurt ourselves, we lose all sense of who we are, and that’s when illness and depression set in.”
“Alarm bells have to go off before you realize you need to fix things. For me, writing the book helped me figure out who I was based on what I wanted out of life, such as what I wanted to do, how I wanted to look, and how I wanted to act.
“I realized I had two options: I could work toward my goals and enjoy the anticipation, even though I knew they might never come true, or I could give up. No longer could they give up.
“I still feel down and depressed sometimes, but I have a plan that I talk about in my book that helps me get through those times.” I believe in myself more than I did before.