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The Many Faces of Loss

Is it true that nothing prepares us for losing someone who means everything to us? What about the childhood you lost because [fill in the blank.] Or the career that made you feel like you had a real purpose, only to get cut in the quick slice of a budget? Or the relationships that fell by the wayside for reasons known or unknown. Or the leg that got amputated, or the hair that fell out, because of illness and treatments that your body couldn’t manage in any other way. I know that nothing can compare to losing someone you love more than life. And that you can’t practice your way into grief, because who would want to do that? But what if you actually grieved the losses you experience along the way? Each and every significant person and thing you’ve lost in life deserved its mourning period. Why? Because it was a piece of you. A piece of your life. If we gave ourselves the gift of acknowledging our losses along the way, maybe the big losses that matter the very most wouldn’t completely annihilate us. And by us, I mean me, too. When my mom died, I was devastated. More so than from any other experience in my life. I didn’t know how to move forward from my heartbreak, even though I believed she was still with me in some intangible way. One of the things I learned as I wrote through my grief was that the barrier between me and the things I hadn’t grieved from childhood was gone. She could no longer buffer those feelings with her comforting, caring ways. They were sitting at my feet, as raw and painful as I’d always feared they’d be. Once I began to face those feelings, my grief about losing her shifted. I will ALWAYS miss her, and her death was a huge loss to me that can’t be filled by someone else. But my ability to more freely sense her nearness, to find joy in the things she loved, to be grateful for the love and support she gave me throughout my life, were what bubbled up for me. No longer so afraid of my early losses, I found a healthier perspective about her death. We humans will absolutely avoid pain at any cost. And yet, the treasures buried beneath our hurts more than soothe our souls. I wish we lived in a culture that was more honest about what it means to be human. That encouraged us to live our lives in conscious awareness of both our fragility and our strength. We are both, always. And you know where you can find peace with them? At the tip of a pen. The mighty pen. The all-knowing, wise, compassionate pen. You have one, too. It doesn’t require a user’s manual, and it always seems to know what to say when you put it to paper. I’ll never forget a woman who attended one of my writing workshops for grief. She had been severely abused by her mother as a child, and spent her adult life caring for her as her mental and physical health declined. She thought she’d be relieved when she died. Instead, she was devastated by grief. The grief she had never acknowledged for herself. For her lack of a safe and happy childhood, for her lack of peace, for her continued burden of caring for the woman who had taken all that away from her. I understood. And I felt hope for her, because I knew she was about to take a similar journey to my own. And even though she got wonderful support from her therapist, it was through writing that she found her own healing power. If you’re trapped in grief, I hope you’ll give your pen a chance to help. If you feel you need some guidance, click here. It may only take a lesson or two to find the confidence to explore it on your own. I want you to find your buried treasure. That is what our losses leave behind, if we have the courage to dig.

Remember. You're both fragile and strong, because you're human. We all are.

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