I Love thee with the passion put to use
in my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I think that life is a series of losses. In how many years of your life has there not been a loss of some sort? Have you ever gone even six months without losing or letting go of something? We think of grief as something to be avoided or, at best, something to get through after a serious loss such as the death of a loved one. Psychology has assigned it phases as if it were an illness.
Aside from the small losses (that are sometimes not small at all), a loved article of clothing, there are losses of friends through transitions (graduation, marriage, moving away), loss of pets, loss of homes, loss of health..
Some losses we chose, other losses are built into life. Every passage is a loss, from childhood to adolescence, to adulthood, to old age. We change jobs, homes, locations, we move on.
In his book, Grieving Mindfully, Sameet M. Kumar, writes “You experience grief whenever you experience any change in your relationship to the world.”
How often do we honor our losses with their due measure of grief? How often do we use changes to acknowledge what we cherish? We feel grief in a loss to the extent that we loved the person or thing lost. Grief honors our love. Our grief teaches us what we value.
We may think of grief only as pain. We want to get past the pain and move on without fully experiencing a loss. I think when we do that, we miss the spiritual value of pain. We miss the ecstasy of the full capacity of our love. We carry the loss with us, without benefitting from the change. In a sense, we never really move on.
Less than Helpful advice
Next time you have a loss, no matter how small it may seem, sit with is for a moment. Be mindful of it. Give it the honor of your attention. How we say goodbye to someone or something defines the depth of our experience.