It has been said that there are many lessons on life that we are to learn before passing. Some of these lessons include: authenticity, loss, love, patience, play, power and forgiveness amongst many more. Today, lets talk a bit about the lesson of loss.
Loss is a major part of our life school. Many of us resist loss through out our lives not understanding that loss is life and life is loss and we cannot grow without loss. There are 5 stages that people experience in a loss in life: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Whatever you are feeling when you lose someone or something is exactly what you are supposed to be feeling. It is never our place to tell someone else that they are grieving too long. The feelings we go through such as feeling empty, helpless, immobilized, paralyzed, worthless, angry, sad and fearful are all part of the healing process. Perhaps the only certainty about loss is that time does heal this.
In life, we long for wholeness and we hope that we can keep people and things just as they are, but we can't. Loss is one of our most difficult lessons of life. We try to make it easier, even romanticize it, yet the pain of separation from someone or something we care about is one of the hardest things we will ever experience. There is no loss without growth which is perhaps why we are always struck by it.
There are some common clear lessons that have come from people who have technically been dead but were brought back to life. First, they are no longer afraid of death. Second, they know that death is only the shedding of a physical body. Third, they remember having a profound sense of feeling wholeness in death, of being connected to everything and everyone and feeling no sense of loss. Lastly, they report that they were never alone, that someone was with them.
We experience our losses in our own time and in our own ways. We are given beautiful grace in denial. We sometimes mourn for those who have cared for us the way they should have. We also mourn for those who did not give us the love we deserved. If we have been hurt by a loss, we may find ways to protect ourselves against loss: we detach, we deny, we help others with hurts so we don't have to face our own, and we might become so self-sufficient that we will never need anyone. We will subconsciously put ourselves in situations that remind us of our original losses so we can heal. If you wonder why you seems to keep meeting people who abandon you, it may be the universe sending you people and situations to help heal your loss. But sometimes the lesson in healing an old loss is in realizing that we can't prevent new losses. By guarding against loss, we incur loss. We ensure we don't lose people by keeping them at a distance, but that is loss in itself.
Even within our deepest sense of loss, we know that life continues. Despite all the losses and endings that may be bombarding you, new beginnings are all around. In the midst of pain, loss may seem to be never ending, yet the cycle of life exists all around us.
Colleen Montgomery is an individual and couples therapist in Severna Park MD. Sacred Cove Counseling is located at: 821 W Benfield Rd. Severna Park, MD 21146. She can be reached at 410-336-4950 to set up an appointment for marriage counseling, individual counseling for issues such as anxiety, depression, grief, and relationship issues.
Life Lessons by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler,Schribner, 2000.