Over the past three months many of us have lost loved ones due to illness or simply because they had lived long and happy lives and it was there time to leave us.  In my own family we have had two elders and one of my generation cross over since October.  Knowing that they are no longer in pain, they are no longer suffering and have returned home and are now with their teachers and soul group integrating what they have learned and become during this lifetime relieves the mind and heart of some sorrow, but the grief remains because they are no longer here.

Grieving what has been lost is complicated and yet very simple.  They are gone and we our lives are changed forever because of this.  When I work through grief I try to see two aspects of this which really helps me to be able to put things into perspective.  One is that part of what I’m grieving is the change in me.  I love my family and my lover will never change nor will it ever go away.  I don’t feel any different about them than I did before, and in fact with this transition the pain and distress I felt because of their conditions is now lifted and I can remember who they were in the prime of their lives and all the good things and challenging things about them that made my life a better place to be.  No, what I grieve is the change in me.  Relationships become part of our identity and changes in those relationships change parts of who we are.  That’s a significant part of what a relationship is.  Letting someone outside of you become a part of you and vice versa.  Once they are gone, that part of you changes.  And that’s ok.  I guess that’s the part that can be very difficult.  To allow that change to be ok and to see that as much as it is a loss, it’s also a new phase of life with its own amazing story to tell and adventures to explore.  It takes time to see that, though.

The other part of the grieving process is the change in the relationship.  Because it can feel like an amputation.  That person was there and now they are not.  And so how can there be a relationship when the other person isn’t there.  I think this is why I really like Halloween and the Day of the Dead celebrations.  And why I resonate with people who set up spontaneous Memorials to those who are gone.  Because the fact is that our relationships don’t end when the person is gone.  They just change into a new phase.  Besides the fact that the person has moved on to a new form of existence, we don’t stop loving them, we don’t stop thinking about them or wanting to share with them or be connected with them.  So the grieving process helps us to work through this transition between how we have related to them in the past and how we will relate to them now.  Because we will relate to them one way or another.  Love is not a light switch that we can somehow turn off.  It exists and we will express it one way or another.  I prefer to express it through art and dance and music and memorials, but to each their own.

So grieve what has been lost, but know that grieving is its own process, not a forever state of being.  It is a transformation and just like snake sluffing off its old skin, each of us will arrive at the end of it renewed and new with a completely unexpected vision of the world as seen through new eyes.

1 Comment

  1. What an amazing article. It was so beautifullly written, I lost my mother recently and it made me cry in a good way. It helped me to realize I need to focus on the whole process and not get stuck in the sorrow and what I miss so much I need to focus more on celebrating the amazing person she was and the amazing things she accomplish in her life. I need to share with others the wisdom and love she had so abundately. Thank you for this inspiring message it was so uplifting.

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