We all deal with death. Whether it is loved one, a friend, or even a pet, part of living and having is losing. Of course, this isn’t our favorite part of life–how could it be? But it is a crucial part of it, yet it is one we often handle poorly, if we deign to handle it all. Oftentimes we, terrified of vulnerability, run from our emotions and our sadness, ashamed of the very tears we so desperately need to shed.
And I think part of why we are so bad with dealing with the losses that come with death is because we neglect losses in the realm of life. We hurriedly exit “goodbye” situations, moving on to numb away the threat of dealing with any pain. We dismiss minor losses, feeling them insignificant, petty, or weak.
I know I’ve done this all too often in my own life. I didn’t mourn leaving relationships or places in my life (childhood home, high school, college, hometown, even Europe), opting instead to get as busy as possible in the next thing and not think about it. Perhaps this is to cover vulnerability, but in doing so I’ve left the cycle of love incomplete, like a sentence with no
An alternative to this mindset, is to love well, and hence, to leave well. Grieve life’s changes effectively by expressing how these changes affect you. I miss my old job. I miss the town I used to live in. I miss living near my siblings. Expressing a sense of sadness over a past goodbye in no way reflects poorly on a present situation either. Missing my old job is not at odds with loving my new one, no more than enjoying the 28 years I had before I got married diminishes the love I bear my wife today. We are humans, after all, complex and capable.
Acknowledging how a thing affects one is perhaps the most essential aspect of moving forward, where grief is replaced by a cherished fondness, and the present tense is freed up to be loved without reservation. Without this, healthy, passing sadness is replaced by unsettled, dubious resentment weeks, months, and years later. Feelings are best processed upfront and honestly.
So give a decent goodbye hug, shed some tears, keep a journal–walk in the darkness when a change occurs, so that you can eventually wade through it into the light beyond.
Love well, grieve well, and live free.