Who wants to think about loss? Even worse, who wants to grieve?
If that is all there is, the answer is NOBODY.
What if it’s only a small part of a bigger picture with a much bigger payoff?
BIG PAYOFF, did I hear someone say I can receive a big payoff?
Yes, the payoff is health, accompanied by freedom and joy. Are you interested?
I want to show you a map of how to get from the intense grief you may be feeling to the health, freedom, and joy that make up the payoff.
First, do you think of death as an event? Most of the time it is NOT an event, but a process. Yes, there is physical death. We may think of death as when someone stops breathing or his heart stops beating. That has evolved into people being “brain dead” and being taken off “life-support” systems, equating death with lack of brain activity. In contrast, there are cultures that stay with the physical body after that last breath, because they see death as a process. The person’s energy continues to leave the physical body for some time after breathing and heart activity have stopped.
Grieving is an emotional dying process. It follows many kinds of losses, not only a human death. What has been no longer exists as we knew it. It has transformed into another form of energy, as all energy does. We feel sad. We want more. But he/she/it is gone from our world.
This dying and renewing process is actually occurring with each breath. When we are born into this world, we leave the world of the mother’s womb. We take a breath of new life, and then we release that breath, which is followed by another breath. The cycle is a fresh breath of inhalation and the exhalation of stale breath. Life follows death follows life throughout our lives. We don’t relate to it as a loss to be grieved. It is natural. Physical death is natural or Mother Earth would not have been able to sustain life. Observing the natural world into which we are born, death is always present with life. The plants and animals are alive until harvested for food by humans or by other species for life-sustaining food. If they don’t die, we don’t live. Death begets life begets death.
Does that mean that no one should care about the loss of life? Absolutely not. Every species cares about its own and has created strategies for living, reproduction, and supporting the young to maturity. Loss is felt. Pets grieve the loss of a human. An elephant’s death is acknowledged by other elephants, even those not belonging to that particular herd. That acknowledgement of a loss is essential for accepting the entirety of life. The present builds on the past and is the foundation for the future. We know the difference in our bones.
It has become more challenging to see this as a natural cycle when we don’t live in the perspective of ongoing death—the death of this moment, this day, this age, this stage of life, this residence, this year, this event, this life. Then when we experience an indisputable death, we haven’t developed the emotional muscles of grieving. Grieving is more than sadness. It includes fully embracing what we received from that person, that experience, or that event. We get to keep the joy, the lesson(s), or both of these, and there is the possibility and freedom to create something new: a new relationship, a new experience, or a new perspective. When the loss is sudden, seemingly out of sequence, or multi-faceted, there are multiple layers requiring the attention of acknowledgement, sadness, and integrating the lessons and/or joys received.
When we connect with loss as every moment endings with simultaneous beginnings, most of it doesn’t require grieving, just acknowledgement. Then our relationship to death transforms. Grieving can be viewed and experienced as psyche and spiritual integration --as the process that allows new life. Renewal allows revelry, love and evolution. The payoff grows, outdistancing the investment of grieving. Like the lottery, if you don’t play, you can’t win.