Karli and her brother sitting in kitchen wearing winter coats
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Fulfillment in Many Forms

Finding fulfilment in life can be tricky. It comes in different forms for everyone, yet it’s something we universally strive to achieve.

Most of us agree love is a powerful foundation for fulfillment. Arguably, it’s the driving force behind everything good in this world. But with love — be it familial, romantic or otherwise — inevitably comes loss. So, why do we deny ourselves this truth?

"The fact is, to deny our losses is to deny our loves."

I learned this at a tender age. I’d say “too young,” but doing so would downplay my own history and growth. My little brother, Andrew, passed away when I was a teenager. He was the most important part of my life. Understandably, losing him changed the entire course of my life.

Everything incontrovertibly changed. My priorities. My perspectives. My aspirations.


Up to that point, I thought I already had a solid grasp on the whole “life” thing. After all, I grew up with SMA and that built my character in its own right. But this was much different.

"Grief is something you have to process, whereas having SMA was the only life I’d known."

Losing my brother brought me lower than I’d ever been. I had no choice but to let myself fall apart at the seams. This was the natural response. This was… healthy. There was no way around it and it needed to happen for me to get through it.

In this fast-paced world, we’re discouraged from giving ourselves the chance to grieve or feel any negative emotions. We expect instant gratification to be all-consuming. But only after completely falling apart did I harness genuine gratitude and appreciation for life. The only reason I could feel such sorrow was because I knew even bigger love.

Andrew made the absolute most of every second — in a way most people never fully grasp. All of his days on earth were perfectly embraced. So when I was in the depths of my despair after he left, his disposition was in the forefront of my mind.

"And then, I rebuilt from the ground up. I reevaluated everything. I carefully chose what was worth my energy, and what wasn’t."

Now, I try to find joy anywhere and everywhere I can, especially in my daily life. I take the time to process the ups as much as the downs. I balance work and play. I don’t pay attention to society’s misguided expectations of what fulfillment looks like.

I put a conscious emphasis on love.