Sorrow and Wisdom

flickr, shira gel

We all experience loss. Most of us experience tragedy. And yet some of us shrink from life because of our losses, while some of us seem deepened and even enriched by them.

How can this be?

If loss is a universal experience, why isn’t there a universal reaction? (click to tweet)

Well, likely because choice is involved. When death, illness, tragedy, and injustice find their way to you, you get a choice.

You either get bitter. Or, you get better.

You can’t be both.

All that’s involved is a decision — you simply decide how you want to see the world, and then you practice mindfulness around your loss. You are careful what you tell yourself about your losses, because your brain is essentially stupid and will believe what you tell it.

If you tell your brain that the world is a fearful place and that life has “done you wrong,” your brain will believe that. In fact, it will even help you further that story and it will find even more injustices for you to dwell on.

But, if you decide that your losses, while very difficult to bear, also are symbols of the great joy that you have had in life, then your brain will kick in and reward you with stories of blessings, and gifts, and gratitude everywhere you look.

It’s simple really. What’s a bit shocking is that so many people choose bitterness. I can remember the day I had to make the decision for myself. A few months after my daughter died, I had grown weary of my grief. But I feared giving it up because it felt like my grief was the only little bit of my daughter left.

If I gave that up, was I a disloyal mom?

If I gave that up, could it mean that one 32-minute life really didn’t matter?

If I gave that up, Grace would really and truly be dead – lost to this world.

But, slowly another inspiration dawned. I realized that loss could also deepen you. After loss and after your beautiful work with sorrow, you emerge wizened.

You know things about yourself and life that you could not have known before.

You know that you are strong.

You know that there is a force for good.

You know to notice love more deeply, because now you truly truly know that all love, all life, is temporal.

That knowing is no longer just a theory or story you’ve been told by the wise ones who have come before you.

That knowing is now YOURS. Now YOU are the wizened one, and as a survivor (and thriver) of loss, you take your place among the leaders of your age.

It’s the Spiritual Booby Prize to be sure — this deep and mournful knowing — but it is the essence of the love that remains.

Love transformed by loss is WISDOM. (click to tweet)

.And WISDOM, my love it what it’s about at this point in out lives.

Love, Jen

P.S.  We have a new VIP-Day coming soon especially created for those of you can’t seem to figure out What’s Next and then stick to a PLAN to make it work. If you want an advance peek, go here. 

photo: flickr, shira gel

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11 Responses to Sorrow and Wisdom

  1. Nat in Asheville says:

    Thank you Jen. I have just had 2 more important people die and I have had to adjust my life to living without them. My attitude and perspective is ALL I can change, in this instance. Wishing I had done things differently or wanting just one more day with them are not possible. So love is the only answer. It is hard, but I have lived through it many times already and I know that is the best response I can give to myself.

  2. Cecelia says:

    This is such an interesting topic. When I was a young girl, I remember losing a cat and my great-grandfather. Both were unexpected and sudden. My reaction is what surprised me the most. I was unable to shed even one tear. I thought something might be wrong with me. But, then something else happened. I found myself longing for and even sad, for the loss, but at a much later time. Almost as if I had a delayed reaction to this loss. Was it my higher self protecting my innocence? Perhaps. I’ve also been fortunate in life that my losses on this level have been minimal – though I have gained wisdom through many other avenues, I suppose. I’ve been referred to as an old soul on several occasions – so maybe I learned this in other lifetimes, the cost of loss.

  3. Marie says:

    Thank you Jen. I remember as a young girl being thrown into a sorrow and depression over deaths of family members. Now it appears that I have gotten so much older and so much wiser that I can see the blessings that people are in my life and I look at death differently. I can see how grateful I am that the person was in my life. I can remember them with perhaps a nicer filter. It’s not that I don’t mourn their passing, but the grief is different.

    Your posting are always timely and so appreciated. Blessings to you.

  4. Alyssa says:

    Loss has so many different perspectives. I lost my father 4 years ago this July and because he had been ill for quite some time, I dare say, it almost felt like a relief when he passed, like waiting to exhale. And though it was sad, my belief is that he is happy, healthy and usefully whole again. My greatest loss to date has been that of my daughter. Don’t get me wrong, she’s still living, if you can call her current existence living. She’s a drug addict and although she has been offered, accepted and completed treatment a few times, the devil in the disease is still more powerful. I mourn the loss of her in my daily living because I’ve had to build healthy boundaries for myself and the rest of our family. My heart breaks for her because I know the depths of addiction myself and the joy in recovery and all I can do is pray and put her in God’s hands. Easy to say and yet hard to do. Some days are better than others and I try to find my joy in the little things. I also happen to believe that our purpose is to love one another and make amends to right our wrongs because frankly life is just too short. Thanks Jen for the topic, it happened to hit home especially for me today. 🙂

    • Jennifer says:


      I am so very sorry that this has been part of your journey. I hear your wisdom loud and clear, but, of course, that kind of wisdom feels like the spiritual booby prize in light of what it has cost you. I will keep you in my prayers — again, a small thing, but a thing that can be done. Jennifer

  5. Cynthia Lee says:

    My mom died two and half weeks ago following almost two years of declining health. Two years that I was caring for her. Two years that so many other challenging things were happening in my life. I have begun to feel like my two choices were sugar coat my life … “I am fine” or the constant dribble about the things that are happening.

    I finally figured out last week my answer to the proverbial question, “how are you?”

    “I am wonderful. Life is wonderful. My mom just died. I am dealing with some of the most difficult things at home right now. But life is wonderful because there is so much grace and love and beauty still. I am wonderful because I am discovering deeper strength and peace throughout this process”

    This has been an amazing realization and is changing my life exponentially.

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