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Relational Reflections: Yes, another blog, and this one’s from Dr. Nadine and Dr. Zan at True Heights

Living in Love, Despite the Certainty of Loss

Dr. Zan’s Thoughts:

Since the new year began, I have already had two close friends experience significant losses. January also marks a significant loss anniversary for me as that was the time of year when I lost my mother. Saying “good-bye” at a time of new beginnings provides an interesting juxtaposition of emotion and experience. And yet, it occurs to me that such is the rhythm of life. There is never really a “hello” without the contrast of the “good-bye,” no light without darkness, no new without old. We ultimately learn to appreciate the ease of a given moment in time by comparing it to the difficulty of a former period.

In my study of mindfulness, I have frequently come across the notion of equanimity. When we are able to live in a state of equanimity, we draw upon inner strength to maintain a sense of balance, despite what life throws our way. This does not mean that we don’t feel intensely or grieve deeply when we are confronted with loss. However, it does mean that we avoid being completely consumed by emotion that would throw us completely off course. We refrain from making impulsive, unhealthy decisions when in the midst of struggle. When it comes to managing loss, we discover ways to keep loved ones present with us. We help them to live on in our loving actions, our honest words, our fondest memories.Our lives become a tribute to those who have gone before--who have touched us, taught us, and inspired us to be better.

I would never presume to have an answer as to why loss happens so frequently,  unexpectedly, unfairly--without regard for the needs of those left behind. However, I do accept that loss is a part of the human condition. And even in the wake of its certainty, may it never leave us reluctant to love and to connect again. For it is in the offering of love, in the living of love shared in any form, that we make this journey through life really matter.

Dr. Nadine’s Reflections:

I read Dr. Zan’s thoughts slowly and reflectively, as she as beautifully captured the experiences that I can say with certainty we’ve all had, if we’ve lived and loved with our hearts open.

I too have shared losses in the new year, even in its infancy.  One loss was anticipated, as a Dear One’s health declined over time, yet it was still surprising in its velocity.  Another loss, in the form of a Dear One’s broken marriage, was completely unforeseen. Another was the unexpected departure of a beloved fur-baby, companion extraordinaire.

These losses all tug on different parts of who we are, and spotlight what we value in life.  But there are a multitude of other losses that we suffer that are less dramatic, less traumatic, that make up our daily experiences.  They often arrive in the form of disappointments. For example, we don’t get the job we were hoping for, and we have to give up the fantasy that accompanied it.  Or, we abdicate control of our driving time when there’s unexpected construction on the road we have to take. We may have to give up a desire to relocate to another city, because we have to take care of a sick parent or family member.  Or, we may realize we have personal and professional limitations that we didn’t anticipate—meaning, we have to give up the notion that we’re superhuman.

No matter who you are, loss comes to us all.  But it’s how you decide to face it, and with whom, that determines what the next steps in your life will be.  Big or small, dramatic or modest, loss shapes us and molds our character and our hearts. It allows us to bond with others and it confirms that we are part of the human race.  As Dr. Zan exhorts, “may it never leave us reluctant to love and to connect again.”

Don’t waste your pain.  Don’t be afraid. Engage courageously and completely!!

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