Rain and Dissertations

It is said that into each life a little rain must fall. How you respond determines so much about the course of your life and your dissertation…

This week I am reminded of a time I experienced a little unexpected rain. My grandmother, less than a week away from her 91st birthday, died somewhat unexpectedly. I say, somewhat, because she was 90. It’s never a complete shock to hear about the death of someone in their 90s…or their 80s, for that matter.

But, she was still relatively independent and in generally good health. So, this did come as a bit of a surprise.

What came as more of a surprise, though, was how the news hit me. She died at 5 o’clock Friday morning. I found out at 5:30. As I was brushing my teeth a few minutes later, it hit me. The last of my direct ancestry was gone.

Two of my grandparents died before I was born. My only living great-grandparent died when I was one. The only grandfather I ever knew passed the summer I graduated from high school. I lost my dad several years ago. And, then my mother, five years later. Those who raised me, who supported me as a child, who were responsible for me being here at all, were all gone.

It’s weird, because I have a wife and children that I’ve been supporting for many years. I honesty don’t know the last time I turned to anyone in my family for direct help or support. In fact, I’d say that I’ve given more support than I received for some time now. I’m not at all unique in this; it’s just life as an adult. But still, in that moment, I felt somehow alone in the universe, cut off from my history.

When your history is gone, where do you focus? On your future, on your legacy. I certainly hope that I’m creating a good legacy in the faces of my children. And, I know that I continue to receive support from those around me in so many ways. It’s just…weird. This feeling.

John Donne extolled his parishioners to “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” He meant that each of us is diminished by each death because we are all a part of mankind. I certainly agree that any loss to our communities is a loss to us all.

But, I see a more personal meaning today. Each time we lose a loved one, we not only lose the light they bring to our lives. We are also reminded of our own mortality.

We only have so many days on this Earth. Enough days for life to become a grind, though. Enough days for us to get lost in the minutia of the day-to-day. Enough days for us to spend far too many of them forgetting exactly how important each one is.

It’s days like this one that remind us that no day is promised. We must be grateful for each one we receive. I think the best way to express that gratitude for your life and each day in it is to make the world a better place.

Personally, I try to make the world a better place by bettering myself, learning something new everyday. Hopefully, this makes me a better husband, father, provider, man.

Professionally, I try to make the world a better place by helping others make their impact. Helping professionals share their career experiences by teaching. Helping nurturers share their compassion through counseling. Helping those who want to help others to find their voice.

If you need extra support and guidance to make it to graduation, I may be able to help. If you'd like to find out whether you qualify for the support we offer throughout the dissertation process, then...

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.

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