Opening from the Experience of Loss
Remembering the death of a loved one, loss of a relationship, experiencing friends moving away, and even the small act of looking in the mirror and realizing I am aging can throw me into a place of sadness, questioning my present life. I often hear both from myself and others, “I wish I would have ____while my loved one was alive”. “I miss how it was, I miss my parents, I miss my home, I miss my youth.” While I am putting my energies into what I had or how it was in the past, I am not attending to the present. What are the things I appreciate in my life right now? These very gifts that I have today are what someday I may be lamenting over having lost. Ten years from now I might look back at this present moment and feel sad that I have lost some of the very things I am taking for granted today. Have you ever looked at a photo of your youth and said, “Oh, I looked pretty good” when at that time you hated your photos. Ten years from now I may wish I looked as youthful as I do today. Have you remembered a relationship that you lost for not nurturing and wish they were in your life now? You may regret not having pursued a passion in the past and now think it is too late. It is never too late to live the life you want. In fact, Francine Toder ,Ph.D. has shown in her book, The Vintage Years that as we age we benefit emotionally, intellectually and physically from take up new challenges and fresh directions. I have made a concerted effort to spend less time worrying about the things I did not do in the past and I try to do it NOW…with those who are around me NOW. As we age we often think about how we may not be able to do certain things in the future. No matter what your age… let’s do them now! Don’t misunderstand me; it is not an easy process to move past the pain of loss. It is difficult. But it is necessary to experience the pain, express our grief and embrace the loss to move to a more peaceful life. I have seen many people who have traveled this journey of grief become transformed, they are different. They hold a new respect for the present moment and they are doing those things to make their life as full as they possibly they can. Pema Chodron states, instead of asking “How do I find strength and happiness?” asks “Can I touch the center of my pain? Can I sit with suffering, both yours and mine, without trying to make it go away? Can I stay present to the ache of loss or disappointment in all of its many forms and let it open me?” In my life I have seen that my experiences, however difficult, have opened me to a greater understanding of my true self, a clearer vision of the reality of now and an appreciation for the beauty of my life.