March 3, 2020

Survival Necessitates Acceptance: How to Navigate Grief.

One of the things that matures us most is loss.

And naturally, the longer we’re alive, the more and more we are brought to part with.

We lose family to death, our “other halves” to breakups, homes to natural disasters, and jobs to unemployment. We lose our abilities to illness and atrophy; our possessions to theft, misplacement, and degradation. Whether for relocation or a closing chapter, we leave behind our communities. Opportunities slip by, identities dissolve, and we are forced to divorce our fantasies of what could have been.

Loss is change, sometimes by choice, but more often than not it’s unexpected. Without permission, what we hold dear is recklessly taken and we’re left to tidy the mess, mend hearts, and make sense of it all.

It is loss that matures us.

To endure bereavement—to know the yearning of what it is to want for something that only exists in memory. To grasp at a hologram. To know the pangs of a stomach churning with regret and a mind tormented with questions of “What if? How come? What now?” To know the incessant ache of a lonely heart, a spirit sunken by sorrow, and a body exhausted from the stress of it all.

To function in a state so barely manageable that the least one can do is pray to live through till morning. Or not—as any escape from mourning has its temptation.

Along with the discomfort, we must also acknowledge the sacred gifts loss brings.

It brings the gift of discovery, for the more that falls away, the more we are able to map the nuanced terrain of our souls—uncovering the valleys, mountains, and borders that shape our inner world. Where are we clinging? What are our values? Where might we open up? What might we reinforce?

It brings the gift of presence, as loss has a way of arresting our attention by throwing a wrench in whatever we thought of as firm plans. It can shake us from our slumber of passivity—of resting on expectation. It wakes us up from a mode of taking for granted. It reminds us of the impermanence embedded in all forms of this worldly realm. It can inspire us to take inventory of our gratitudes and ignite meaningful action.

There is no guidebook for healing loss, no recipe to demonstrate the right ratio of holding close, letting go. It takes time to find the balanced proportion between honoring the past and moving forward.

In the meantime, it’s confusing and it hurts.

The letting go hurts, the holding on hurts.

And then there’s navigating the scattered debris of practical life—which is a task unto itself.

So how does one do it? How does one trust through something that can bring such devastation?

It’s likely that loss will not immediately inspire trust, but it’s impact cannot be ignored—and in lieu of understanding the why of its presence, we must at least accept.

Survival necessitates acceptance.

Loss possesses the unique ability to both confront our ego and galvanize our emotions.

So, though we may not initially find trust through loss, perhaps it is in its power that we can feel reverence for a moment, and in time, cultivate respect for its place in our becoming.

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