The Winding Path

Counselling Services provided by Barb Zacharias

August 2010: Grieving Losses

Posted on Aug 15, 2010

Grieving losses. Not something our society, our culture, is particularly good at. We have time, and place, and space—format—for grieving death—particularly of people, not always of animals/pets. But is that sufficient? What about the void left after the dust has settled?

Generally speaking, we are not well-equipped for dealing with loss. By loss, I broaden the scope of grieving to more than loved ones. We grieve (or not) for loss of jobs, hopes, dreams, plans, relationships, marriages, health, mobility, freedom, security, stability, ability, wealth, community, home, purpose—the list is endless.

However, we are often at a loss as to how to grieve these losses. In our ignorance, we push these losses aside, try to move forward, to get on with life. Yet to be mindful, to live soulfully, requires we pay attention to these losses. Give them their space; their due. Express our sadness, cry if we need to, accept the sadness as legitimate, hold a ceremony, mark the moment. Attend. In all forms of that verb.

Attend—as in show up, be present, pay attention, listen, concentrate, focus.

What if we observed the loss of job as well as celebrated the job promotion? To note the end of things (i.e. funerals, divorces, foreclosures) as well as the beginnings (births, weddings, house warmings). What would it look like to mark the passing of one chapter of our lives and usher in a new one? We are often good at celebrating. What about mourning?

And what would be the benefit? Most of us just want the bad stuff to go away and only welcome the good. If the disappointments and passings in our lives were given more attention, would they be more manageable—contrary to our self-preservation urges to ignore or minimize? Is it possible to give space for grief without it overwhelming us? Is that what we are afraid of—that the so-called negative emotions will overtake us, consume us? That we will never be able to feel positive emotions again if we give way to the ‘dark side’?

Perchance, if we were to attend to—be mindful of—our inner lives, our outer troubles may gain new perspective. It’s worth a try. An experiment in being. What would that look like? To live in each moment—whether it be a space of joy or sorrow.

May your life be fuller by living in the moment—whatever that particular moment brings.

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