The air was still as the final solution was injected into Sam’s front leg. His eyes closed as he slowly drifted away into eternal peace and oblivion. Spot, his brother, who has been with Sam all his life walked over and gave the tiniest sniff of Sam’s head, now still and lifeless. With that, he walked away, picked up a ball, and came back to his guardian asking for a play. His guardian had no doubt that Spot knew his brother was gone. Though he did not show obvious signs of grief, he knew.
How do you deal with loss? Humans are blessed and cursed with a component of extreme consciousness (whether it is used wisely or not!). As much as it allows us to rationalize as clear as possible, it also has the ability to distort anything irrationally as much as we want to suit our thoughts. It is mad.
When you lose a loved one through death, your life partner perhaps, a close family member, or simply a great friend, the sense of loss can be overwhelming. Your life crumbles and distorts. Things that made you happy now makes you sad. You can’t think, you can’t smile and you struggle to find footing. What seemed secure in the past is now unstable. You feel cheated. Your glow seemed to diminish overnight. Your heart aches so much that it is physically painful. You want to be strong but the harder you try, the weaker you feel. Finally, you allow your tears to flow until there is none left and all that remains is a headache and a sense of emptiness and helplessness. This is only Day 1.
How do you move on? Can you move on? The death is now at peace and it is the living that continues to suffer. Death was a release for one and almost a punishment for the other. Is that really true? The degree of pain reflects the degree of joy that was experienced. The degree of loss is directly proportional to the degree of love that was felt and enjoyed. The deeper the love, the greater the pain and sense of loss. That itself is beautiful. If you felt no pain, you probably felt no love.
There are those who refuse to fall in love for fear of getting hurt and to avoid feeling the pain. We are humans who are made to feel. To deny your feelings is to deny humanity itself. In the game of life, he who experiences most wins. When you truly love someone, a bit of that love is forever etched in your heart and becomes part of your soul, so you cannot really lose that love even when that person is gone.
Ask yourself what exactly are you sad about? Did you enjoy the time you had with that person? Did you cherish the moments you shared? If you did, you should be celebrating the wonderful opportunity you received from the universe that gave you that experience instead. Usually, when you are sad, you are thinking of the times which you will not have in the future, the dreams that were made but never realised, the things that you wished you had said but never did, and the acts that you had wished you done but missed the chance. It is usually all the things that have not happened yet. If they have not happened yet, who is to say that they were going to happen anyway? In that case, you may be sad about things that may not be real or even possible.
However, if you focus on the time spent together, it is likely that you will smile to yourself and feel good. Perhaps you are missing the physical contact or the emotional connection. For that, you will need to practice and apply gratitude that you had that contact and connection in the first place. Is it better to have loved and lost or never loved at all? I certainly believe it is the former as we are built to feel. Winnie the Pooh nailed it perfectly when he said, ‘How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.’ 20 years from now, you will regret the things you did not do more than the things you did.
So, how do you move on after a loss of love? Remember that true love will never die. It simply does not go away. Some try to ‘get on with it’ and never finish the grieving process. That is a mistake. Not only will you be unable to live fully as there are unprocessed feelings, but those feelings will also eventually come out and bite you in the backside when you least expect it. Instead, embrace that pain as much as you can, knowing that it is love you are embracing. Feel that emotion fully. Do not deny it and never fight it. Understand that you are not losing anything but actually changing and reshaping who you are. That is usually the fear that many have. That they are facing the unknown. That they are now changed and different because of the loss of love. Do not fear that but embrace that for that is you, the magnificent you. Events shape us, there is nothing wrong with that. Be sure the change serves, not disempower you. Focus on being extremely grateful.
Why would you want to do that? What’s the point? After all, it is easier to relish and stay in the pain. At least, it is and stays familiar. Some do so to feel significant (or play the victim). Some do so because they cannot see any other way or simply are not able to get out of the fix. Well, it is because you are amazing and beautiful. You were special before your loss and guess what, you are still special after your loss. You are still alive, with so much to give and contribute to the world. Remember that you have the GIFT, not the curse of life. You have an obligation not to waste it and live it to your fullest. Hold your feelings close to you, except think of it as love, not loss. Turn your sorrow into strength. Convert your wounds into wisdom. Understand that you are now bigger and better for the experience that you have had. Turn your pain into power. Allow your pain to shape you to become even more. Now you have more depth, compassion, and wisdom.
In life, there are no mistakes. There may be heartbreaks, pain, and a sense of loss. Know that those feelings are not unique. What you are feeling is not unique. However, what is unique is you. You have the power to change how you feel, your perception of life, and your ability to carry on. Your world demands you to do so. Always keep the faith.
By the way, this loss of love is not limited to loss by death only. A breakup of a relationship can feel very similar too. I wish you strength in your journey.
Spot is asking for a play now. What will you be doing?
‘What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.’ – Helen Keller