I have lived with passion and in a hurry, trying to accomplish too many things. I never had time to think about my beliefs until my 28-year-old daughter Paula fell ill. She was in a coma for a year and I took care of her at home, until she died in my arms in December of 1992.

Paralyzed and silent in her bed, my daughter Paula taught me a lesson that is now my mantra: You only have what you give… The pain of losing my child was a cleansing experience. I had to throw overboard all excess baggage and keep only what is essential.

Because of Paula, I don’t cling to anything anymore. Now I like to give much more than to receive. I am happier when I love than when I am loved. I adore my husband, my son, my grandchildren, my mother, my dog, and frankly I don’t know if they even like me.

But who cares? Loving them is my joy. Give, give, give?what is the point of having experience, knowledge or talent if I don’t give it away? Of having stories if I don’t tell them to others? Of having wealth if I don’t share it?

I don’t intend to be cremated with any of it! It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world and with the divine. It is in giving that I feel the spirit of my daughter inside me, like a soft presence. -Isabel Allende

Have you had a devastating experience that has transformed how you see the world?  This inspiring story reminds me there is hope, even in the depths of grief, that life is worth living, especially when we learn to give of ourselves.

How have you been changed by grief?

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