Metamorphosis by Mika and Kuri via DeviantArt
Ruminating on loss
Loss is inevitable, inescapable, irrevocable.
How do we make sense of it?
I don’t know.
I sometimes wonder what to think, when I am given the usual ‘pick yourself up by your bootstraps’ speech and told to ‘get on with it,’ in the midst of personal loss. Should we be able to pin ourselves together and get on with it, even when our hearts are breaking and our bones are shattered? Should we be ready and willing to embrace our losses as the ambulance carries us away, tourniquet quietly stopping the bleeding as our fingers turn blue?
Certainly, it’s true, we have no choice. It is what it is. There is — in fact — no way to get through life without experiencing loss.
(And, as an aside, what a drab gray ride life would be without its ups and downs, carrying us like autumn leaves toward the ocean.)
No matter how fast you run, loss finds you
Loss is a part of life that no one can outrun or escape. We experience our first loss on the day of our birth. As we move slowly and painfully out of our mother’s body and into the cool light of this world, we lose our sense of being completely absorbed by and connected to someone else. We become separate beings that very first moment, after that first breath.
We cannot return to the womb, although there seem to be plenty of us who think that is a viable option. We are out here on our own and it stings. It is no wonder we wail at the top of our lungs the moment we arrive. Where is the warm, moist, safe, sweet dark soup we have been soaking in for all these months?
Gone. All gone.
Who do you think you are?
Not much later, we lose our sense of our own truth, the rightness of our instinct, our intuition, feelings. We are instructed to follow orders, to toe the line, to eat our peas, to tie our shoes. Being like everyone else is paramount.
Lose your sense of identity. It is best not to stand out too much. Don’t blow your own horn. Don’t be a show off – the world doesn’t need another one of those.
Hiding Our Light
So we silence ourselves and we stamp out the spark inside, we mask our faces, and we mark time.
That we are not ourselves concerns no one – least of all us. We are fitting in to this little life that we have embarked upon. We quickly forget all the promises that we made before the time of our birth – all the lessons that we were sure to learn, all the places and people we would reach – all the light that we would burst forth with, dazzling the whole world with our bright spirit.
Slowly, ever so slowly, the varnish of our spirit is stripped away.
And we are left with the wreckage, the sliver of us that remains intact. The bit that cannot be sanded away.
That is what we must hold onto. That is what must never be lost. That is the part of us that makes us, us.
And, the thing is, we cannot give it away, no matter how hard we try. That raw diamond may end up buried deep within us, but it can never be lost.
Waking Up Alive
Years pass. One day we awaken. We come back to ourselves, usually through terrible loss.
We rediscover our inherent strength, hiding beneath small fears and trembling hands. We shake in our boots. We can’t sleep.
Our love has left us and there is a fissure that we cannot repair – that no amount of tears can fill – that no amount of food or wine or sex can cauterize.
And we are called upon to look for the part of ourselves that we put away, that we boxed up years ago and stuck in the back of the coat closet. We must find her now. We need her. Only she will do.
Shaken and Stirred
I suppose that losses come along to shake us from the stupor we are in.
They are what awaken us to spirit and help us find the will to go on, even after the limbs of our life have been severed or broken.
We are resilient and powerful. That is what loss teaches us: that we can survive. That we can endure and rebuild our lives, no matter how terrible our losses seem to be.
We have greatness inside us and we can tap it, as long as we don’t allow ourselves to completely forget or erase who we are. We are vessels of spirit. We are connected to the universe, part of the tree of life, necessary to the world. We each have gifts to bestow and bless upon those around us.
Waking up today I realize I am a part of this huge soul-skin family. No matter how shattered I might feel from time to time, I am not alone.
I am surrounded by the amazing grace of other kindred spirits, and that knowledge makes me glad.