Life Lessons from Loss
A recent tragedy brought to mind a previous loss and life lesson. During the past few days I have spent time processing the events, and the aftermath; aiming to determine what I should be learning from this. While I have been sad, and feel the shame that comes with the idea I could have prevented the incident, I am not the person who is suffering the most.
When we find ourselves wondering why? Why did this happen? That is the signal that we have a lesson to learn. The takeaway will not be about actions, it is not necessary to fret over what we should/could/would have done, the goal isn’t to avoid all possible future struggles. Considering options that were bypassed may bring an element of closure and help us feel prepared to move on, but that isn’t the lesson. Rather, life lessons initiate an adjustment to our perspective. They provide us an opportunity to review and renew our reactions.
Some time ago, when I lost a dear pet, I had been ruminating intensely for a long time prior. The horror of the loss, and the feeling of being responsible haunted me, and the rumination that followed was so deep, so painful, that the metaphorical dam broke, and I finally let the habit of rumination wash away. I found acceptance, I no longer held on to blame or shame, instead I allowed myself to feel the pain until it subsided. I found comfort in knowing I provided a happy life for the time she was under my care.
When my family member recently lost her pet (the aforementioned tragedy) I had been watching them and again felt a sense of responsibility, though I had already learned not to ruminate. I felt sad, but I knew not to wallow in the sorrow, and to instead find solace in quiet solitude where I could process.
Before I could even ask myself, why did this happen? I was terrified of being on the receiving end of anger and rage. Inundated with this fear I kept my distance, allowing her space. Eventually I came to the realization that I needed to face the situation. Due to my past traumas I avoid even the possibility of conflict, and this was costing me the opportunity to share my love and compassion with her in a time of loss and pain.
While I still felt guarded, I forced myself to approach, embrace and apologize to her for her loss. The response was surprisingly calm, especially since her attitude toward me has been outwardly hostile and angry for weeks prior to the tragic day. Perhaps her dam broke and the anger she had been simmering in finally washed away.
Pain, suffering and loss come to all of us throughout our lives, it can happen at any moment. There is no benefit to holding onto it or obsessing over it for these moments of friction which shape us come lessons on changing our perspective. We can lead a fulfilling and meaningful life through all of our days by adjusting our views, softening our reactions, and accepting each moment as it comes.