Handling Loss Gracefully

At some point in life aging entails loss. Aging is inevitable if we are living. Being a student of the mystical, sometimes I want to resist this reality of life. It is lovely sometimes to revel in the awareness that I am not my body, my spirit will indeed one day move out of here (out of me) and onward to who knows what; I do not know. But what I do know, as I open to life more fully each day, is that there are losses, losses and then more losses. Because with each meditation that may take me to a place other than this body for a brief time, back I return to it and the limitations that it holds. Losses. It’s lovely to look at the losses in the light of a gain sometimes. Like, when I continually deal with menopausal symptoms, and I suddenly am tired of them, tired of the discomfort they cause, tired of the frustration in how my body has aged and all these minor limitations, I can think about not having to deal with that time of the month and that feels like a gain of sorts. I remember the gain of wisdom that comes with each passing year. Left behind are the frustrations and disappointments of youth and innocence. Some aging is not so bad.

But inevitably, as we accept life on life’s terms, we experience loss. There are many losses along the way. You would think that we would get proficient at accepting loss. But I see it often, and sometimes I still try to fool myself too, we dodge the loss by sidestepping into anger or some other emotion that seems less weakening in the moment. The brave thing to do is just sit tight and feel the loss. Feel the heart breaking loss, little or large, that means we indeed are alive and moving onward. What I realize is that all loss is heartbreaking, if the thing that is lost means something to us. So there it is. Let your heart break.

What will letting your heart break be like? You will cry, most likely; at least tears will arrive. You will feel a pain in your chest, maybe your throat or your stomach, or maybe in your head. But there will be some pain, the emotional kind that is hard to make go away readily. The thing that helps is time. Oh yes, time heals. It may not make it all go away forever but it does lessen the intensity of the pain, muting the overall sense of it. The other important thing that helps with loss is acceptance. Saying yes this is gone, or yes this is different. It is in the trying not to experience the loss that we suffer much more.

Yes, for a time we might be frustrated, we might resist by ignoring the loss and carrying on anyway. With this we often end up more frustrated, maybe indignant. Or perhaps we will choose the “but look what is good about it” tactic and lessen the blow. We might do the justifying thing, explaining how it’s better this way, or it’s just part of life, things like this that use our mind to sidestep the emotional blow of loss. We might try these things. And maybe they can help for a time when we feel unable to bear the enormity of some losses. But someday, sure as the sun will rise, we will be back to feel the loss.

The thing about choosing not to feel loss for a time is that we often compound and confuse the loss, making it more difficult to see, to return to, and then to feel in its pure form. Often with clients we spend hours untangling the web that inadvertently was created to avoid feeling loss. They usually find themselves stuck in frustration that may have escalated to anger, usually towards someone else, because there is no where to keep going with this tangling web of avoiding sadness and grief. Or sometimes, the attempt was made to become numb from feeling loss and it seems as though they are frozen in numbness, no feeling will emerge. Slowly, together we unweave the web and find the ultimate source. And there it is. A loss.

Oh, if we could just learn to cry more readily. To see loss as a natural part of life, as a way of opening our hearts to the deepest parts of what and who we are. Let the benefits be clear about loss; perhaps then it will be easier to bear as we recover from the pain.

When we feel the pain fully, accept the loss, we move into a new life. When we feel the pain fully, we no longer set ourselves up for getting stuck in a tangling mess of other emotions. When we feel the pain fully, we are growing our emotional heart muscle, so that we indeed know we can live through deep heartache and into new life. When we become comfortable with our own tears, we may allow and then comfort others as they bear the burdens of loss. When we become more proficient in saying what comforts and learning how to comfort even in silence, our compassion serves others because we know what helped us. As we learn to handle loss gracefully, we become more graceful in living fully.

Ultimately we feel more powerful deep inside because we have sunk into the depths of being human and have learned to surface again and do a most difficult thing – face life anew with the loss still fresh in our hearts. This aspect of living is what leads us into our authentic power; living openly through it all and discovering our inner resources that nothing can take away.