Sunday, January 29, 2017

Turning Loss Around

We’ve all been there … from losing something that may be small and insignificant to others, but has great meaning for us – to losing a great love, or the death of a close friend or relative.  Loss comes to us all, in different guises, and the response differs  from person to person…some hide it away behind a wall of false laughter and forced banter, while others mourn openly, talking and crying with the associated mess that this particular kind of grief bestows.  I fall somewhere in between.  It depends on the loss.  Over the last few years I’ve had to bend and stretch to accommodate a wide range of loss – a marriage, a friendship, the loss of hopes and dreams, children leaving to start their own lives, both near and far; the loss of our family home where I grew up, both parents living with dementia  and no longer able to play their long-held roles in my life as well as the death of much-loved relatives.  Listed like this, it seems a lot and I’ve not emerged unscathed.  Grief is like the ebb and flow of the ocean, sometimes the waters are calm and tranquil, sometimes they rage and roar and often there is no warning that the tide is turning.  The smallest things can unleash the wild woman within; the faint smell of your child as you pass their empty bedroom, a random memory jogged by an innocent comment, the incomprehension on your parent’s face when you visit – taken unawares the grief is often overwhelming. 

But still, days go by, life goes on and somehow we survive the changes, the challenges, and by embracing them we become stronger,  learning more about our own resilience and coping mechanisms.  They say that nature abhors a vacuum, and loss creates the biggest of voids – but like nature, the spaces left in our lives slowly fill up - sometimes with new relationships, different friendships, new hobbies. As people move on, as situations change, as our children grow and use their wings to fly, (just as we dreamed they would, never believing that by giving them permission to seize their joy, that our joy would be fractionally dimmed by the sheer loss of their company.  Who knew this? ) we learn to accommodate the gaps, to live with them, to tolerate and maybe eventually to embrace them. 
'Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.' Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Somehow,  the stripping back to the bare bones of loss can reveal its true heart ...  love and loss are inextricably linked and without great love there will never be the pain of huge loss.  So despite the grip of losses talons, there is a way to transmute the grief into something bearable.  To remember that love was at the heart of all loss can be a great comfort - I never believed in the adage 'better to have loved and lost than never loved at all' but somewhere in that trite little phrase, there is a great truth: significant loss is preceded by extraordinary love.  For that, there can only be gratitude. 

 'I still miss those I loved who are no longer with me but I find I am grateful for having loved them. The gratitude has finally conquered the loss.' – Rita Mae Brown.

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