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?
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.
.And WISDOM, my love it what it’s about at this point in out lives.
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photo: flickr, shira gel