Loss can feel like a cruel teacher. It not only points to the holes in your life, but also the other holes that never feel like they will be filled. You can feel as if you are losing a part of yourself, your history, and your security.
There are so many ways we have losses and have endings. For me, loss came knocking on my door when my best friend--from childhood--was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. My mentor was also departing, and the ways I had always seen myself were also being deconstructed.
All these losses ultimately meant transitions or transformation in my life. But first I was left with a sense of emptiness, absence, and disorientation. Moving with my grief allowed me to have a greater curiosity and acceptance around following my feelings, which lead me to more personal growth.
Some people view sadness and grief as weakness or a lack of faith. But grief and sadness are a deep recognition that we loved, needed, and hoped so strongly.
This was such bitter medicine. As much as I am a personal growth nerd, I am also a human. I too resisted the bad feelings and wanted to opt for more optimistic stoicism. However, I decided to say. “OK universe. What the f–k am I supposed to learn in all this?” I just gave into the fear, the desperation, and the sadness, so sure it would destroy me and destroy my life.
However, I wasn’t destroyed: the process of grief gave me powerful gifts of clarity. The layer of healthy denial, ignorance, or innocence was stripped away, and I started to see things for what they are versus what I wanted them to be. I realized the vulnerability of my friend and the tenuousness of life. I suddenly was able to let go of my self-important bulls–t and the need to be productive or successful. I could more easily ignore my phone and say “no” without guilt, because I literally didn’t feel like I had any time for that. I felt free of tomorrow and also felt so alive in the now. I was able to shed things more easily because death wasn’t a fantasy; it lived by my friend’s bedside. I learned to say:
“Good-bye people, work, or stuff that no longer serves me!”
I learn to value and treasure things in a new way. My senses were heightened, allowing me to enjoy food, beauty, and pleasure more deeply and have more authentic connections with others. Often loss unites people in their commonality of loss and grieving with compassion and love. Through admitting and honoring how you needed and depended on the relationship, you grow to see what you may deserve in the future and what you gained in the past. My friend and I talked about her dying which also meant crying about how much we loved each other and what we meant to each other. I admitted my crushing fear of losing the one person who loved me for 28 years with no obligation. To acknowledge and accept that amount of love was healing and insightful for us both.
I learned, to a greater degree, to accept pain, imperfection and lack of control. You can’t fix loss. You will try to bargain and make wishful statements like “if only…” This is healthy and normal, but the greatest change you can make is to embrace the limitation of life. I learned to practice forgiveness, compassion, or acceptance for myself and others to move through the pain.
For my clients, I was able to hold them with more grace in our work together. Sometimes there is a gift of not changing or filling the void. Sometimes things aren’t replaceable and aren’t meant to be. Sometimes a loss is a recognition of abuse and neglect that will never be recognized, healed, or repaired. Here is the acceptance of how you grew and survived in your journey. From my own losses, I was able to sit more fully with my clients’.
Loss helps you to learn to hold the raw unknowing of what each moment and feeling can hold for you. By sitting with unknowing, one cultivates patience, curiosity, and deep acceptance of the Self.
Grief is best when we are held, supported, and seen by others so we can truly let go.
I couldn’t have been able to find such richness in my journey if it weren’t for an incredible community that supported me with there love, wisdom, and patience. I was able to stand on what felt like an abyss, know ing that I was held by the gravity of others’ love and caring.
P.S. My friend is doing well and getting married, so much to celebrate!!!