I often think about the people and critters in my life that have died, but not from the perspective of what I’ve lost. I keep their memory in my heart so I can appreciate what I’ve gained by having them in my life.
Life and death are eternally linked. You cannot have one without the other. It doesn’t matter if you are 15, 25, 65, or 95…we all experience death in some way.
The evidence is all around us. Each day dies to be born anew with the dawn. Some people are in our lives for what we feel is not long enough…it could never be long enough. Items get used up, some get broken. Things get lost or even taken away. Money gets spent. Critters we dearly love grow old and leave us.
For many people, it is too scary to look death in the eye and so we choose to put our fingers in our ears and sing a happy tune instead. This is especially true when we are young…even talking about the idea of talking about loss scares the crap out of us. We dare not speak it out loud, in case we attract it to us. Even folks who are not superstitious struggle with this topic.
One time I was at a rock concert and witnessed an angry young man walking my way. He had his fists clenched, his face was red, and his eyes were glazed, so he was probably stoned. It freaked me out so I turned away, as it looked like he was going to hit someone standing very close to me.
Then I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I flinched but didn’t turn around. They tapped harder, more insistently…
What do you think I did to you? I don’t even know you, I thought…I was coming up with all of my responses – he was a lot bigger than me and he was clearly on drugs.
I was up by the stage, standing in the middle of a frenzy of young people jumping and dancing and cheering. With the music blasting, he probably couldn’t hear me no matter what I said…
Then this person laid their hand on my shoulder. That really freaked me out, so I spun around.
It wasn’t him. The stoned guy was long gone.
You dropped this, the person said, and handed me my sweater.
I think of this story when I think of how I dealt with loss when I was younger. I was totally afraid to even think about it, let alone discuss it, but it kept tapping me on the shoulder, over and over, its hot breath in my ear, reminding me of my mortality. Reminding me of the mortality of everyone and everything I loved.
The day I turned to face the dragon, I discovered my older and wiser self in front of me. She accepted that we are not getting out of here alive, and she was okay with it. She reminded me that I came to life just fine, and I will leave just fine. That the natural order of all things is to be stripped of all things. She said to focus on the in-between, where you get to live, don’t waste time mourning that which you cannot change. She taught me how to celebrate life, instead of mourning death.
I have learned it can be viewed in two ways – as loss or gain. How you think about it is a matter of mindset. The longer you live, the more you naturally accumulate…you choose the meaning you put on this accumulation.
Considering this, I set about training my mind to transmute loss into gain.
Loss is a natural part of living and a wise person accepts this as early as possible. If it is a natural part of living then it happens to everyone, not just me.
Everyone’s mother dies. Everyone’s dad and gram and sister and brother will die. Everyone’s good ole dog dies.
The mindset of abundance allows me to consider what their elegant spirit graced my life to share with me. I thought about it so I could get my mind around their value to me, and how their presence in my life helped me grow. After all, I am still here. I still have things to do, people to see, places to go.
It was a mind-shift to choose celebration instead of mourning. With each loss, it naturally takes a unique period of grieving and adjustment. Embrace it. We are human beings – we love and feel the loss of love. This period must happen if the individual truly wishes to heal.
However, at some point, the resilience of the human spirit will allow us to begin the recovery process. We are not dead.
I have found that choosing to focus on celebrating the life of those who have died, instead of choosing to focus on the circumstances that led up to their death and my loss, was transformative. It opened me up in ways I could never have imagined before this process began.
Loss happens, but those of us who are still here can make the best of it.
Human beings are natural storytellers. Tell the story of how your life is better for having had those people in your life.
That is a story full of loving thoughts, worth telling again and a-gain.