When I was pregnant, I anticipated the birth of my precious babies, but I dreaded the pain of the actual experience. Hey, I’m human.

But I came to terms with the idea of “labor pains” because I understood the end game. Pregnancy, labor and the physical pain of giving birth, they all lead to a very desired outcome: a beautiful baby — a brand-new life. It is nothing short of a miracle and certainly worth the sacrifice and effort needed to get to the end game of 10 fingers and 10 toes.

So, even though I dreaded the pains of labor, I welcomed them. I called them “pain with a purpose.” Because although the pain was real, it came with a purposeful outcome — a human being. I welcomed this pain with a purpose. I embraced it. I anticipated it with wonder and awe.

I was fortunate to experience this pain on four different occasions. Each time it changed my life for the better.

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Pain comes into our life for a reason. Sometimes it’s to deliver a baby. At other times it’s in the wake of grief.

Recently I’ve experienced this second type of pain.

Like giving birth, it’s hard to describe or imagine unless you’ve been there.

At first grief felt empty. It still does, sometimes. But I’ve come to believe that, like giving birth, grief can be pain with a purpose — if we allow it to be.

Hardships in life come with opportunity. Bear with me. I speak from experience.

Hardships, pain, grief — they provide a new perspective. The old reality exists no more. It is gone. That can be extremely difficult, but it also comes with a new horizon. The future has changed, but change doesn’t have to be completely devastating. What you had planned is gone but other futures lie before you, if you are willing to accept and embrace them.

Embrace them.

Grief provides an opportunity for growth. In faith. In existence. In being. For me, it’s provided a new outlook on life beyond life. Most of us have a need to believe in something beyond what we know in the here and now. Grief has helped me hone my own beliefs and faith.

Have faith.

Pain gives you a new outlook on priorities. What you thought was important might not even register on the radar once you’ve been thrust into true, life-altering pain. That can give you the gift of clarity and help you take your seemingly chaotic life and put it in its most simplistic form. Life priorities become simple when you understand, to your core, what’s really important,

Understand what’s important.

Grief has made me, forced me, allowed me to realize my strength. If I’d known my current path a year ago, I would have said, “There’s absolutely no way I can endure that, much less conquer it.” I didn’t feel weak, but in some ways I was. Grief didn’t allow me to be weak. It forced, helped, allowed me to conquer my own fears.

Conquer your fears.

When my husband first passed on, I read that grief takes who you were and completely morphs you into someone you never could have imagined pre-grief. Your world has changed, so it’s only logical that your very essence changes as well. Change doesn’t have to be bad — even when it was unplanned and anything but your first choice. Change allows for possibilities and new beginnings. It allows you, in essence, to give birth to a brand new person.

Give birth to the possibilities. Give birth to yourself.

With love and gratitude.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.