Monday Meditation: Strength in Vulnerability

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong in the broken places.”

Ernest Hemingway

Two of the greatest fallacies regarding brokenness, I think, are:

  • No one gets broken/hurt by the world–life is always perfect and fair
  • If we admit to being broken, we are weak–there is nothing to be gained from being broken or healing from that brokenness.

Both are bull.

Every one of us is broken in one way or another. Every one of us. How we respond to that brokenness is a choice. If we equate brokenness with weakness, we may overcompensate for our “weakness” by seeing ourselves as too perfect to break and/or by denigrating others who get broken. If we see brokenness as a part of life, as something that can lead to personal growth (for us and others around us), we may become more resilient in the face of challenges, and more compassionate to other broken people.

Brokenness is not a liability. Brokenness can transform our perspective, rearrange our priorities, make us more loyal, and more accepting.

When grieving, it can be difficult to see the positive side to the suffering. It can be hard to see that grief is steeling us against more challenges to come. It can be impossible to see that grief is melting away our vulnerabilities and making us more available to love and help others who are hurting.

Grief breaks everyone and, if we allow it, grief can show us how to rebuild our shattered worlds into something stronger and more loving. Rather than thinking of broken as breaking down, what if we conceived of broken as breaking open? Our strength as grievers comes not in our hardness, but in our vulnerability: in our ability to love freely, to share our pain, to cry with others, to empathize more deeply.

Photo by Manuela Adler on

Published by ancarroll

Alexandra N. Carroll is an author, grief advocate, crafter, mother, and partner. She writes on grief and self-care from her home in Vermont. Her forthcoming book concerns how to untangle life-after-loss through the creation of a strong self-care plan.

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