It was in my graduate studies I found my passion. I was not conscientiously seeking it. I stumbled and struggled into it. Grief and Loss is my passion. Jokes have been made about my passion as if I had to be kidding. No, really! Grief and Loss is my passion! It is a journey that I discovered I lived my entire life. Sometimes I could not visualize it or explain it to anyone, but when all the pieces and parts came together I knew my passion from the inside out. My passion began personally. As with all passions, there is purpose.
I will begin simply. We are born. We live. We die. I have a story and a history. I have a passion. I live it daily. I have moved both out-of-state, in-state and from the city to the country. I left a 29 year career using one strategy of departure that didn’t work well. Then applied a different strategy when leaving another position and that ending was worse. Each one of the previous statements describe a type of loss. I experienced other losses including severed friendships; suicide of a loved one; date rape; a loved one’s amputation; accidental death of a friend; sudden death; chronic illness; chronic illness resulting in death and death due to old age.
Whether we like it or not, grief is real. Grief is naturally profound because it is directly attached to the complexity of relationships. Grief has an influential, long lasting even life changing effect on all of us. Though grief is a natural response to loss, often bereavement is underestimated. In the western culture, the medical model of healthcare and the instantaneous lifestyle does not give credence to the value of our life stories, family heritage or personal experiences. Unfortunately for anyone who neglects to engage in the grief process, the effects may have deep wide spread implications often detrimental to them. Grief does not just go away. It becomes complicated.
Grief is unique. Grief is best described as a process or a journey. Grief can be like emotional waves. Grief is not limited by sorrow, overwhelming sensations and numbing affects. Grief signifies something changing. Grief can be a cluster of unique responses that are not necessarily predictable, preset or mandatory.
Loss creates a vacancy of confusion. Loss occurs whether we want it or not. Loss takes away those we love or that which we worked hard for or that which we have placed value on. Loss comes in all shapes and sizes. Loss can be expected or not and real or perceived.
Loss creates pain. Loss can be a limb, a job, a death, a change in role or position, responsibility or ability. It is a meaningful change that is defined by a person, but not necessarily defined or interpreted the same by those around us. Loss affords an opportunity that is hidden by pain. However, when viewed through a different lens, loss opens up the possibility that something entirely new can be built and grown from that which was lost.
You may be wondering…. So where’s the opportunity? Let me offer a possibility in the engagement of grief. Consider this! At any moment, there is a thin line between life & death or stability & transition. This movement goes in one direction, yet collides with one’s belief system, the meaning of life, relationships, creativity, and change. Grief and Loss invites the deeper questions about hope, joy, passion, contentment, as well as one’s gifts, talents or desires. I agree with some who say “we experience our lives forgetfully” or manage and control as many aspects of our lives as possible. In doing that we lose what creation has in store for us by not entrusting ourselves to the natural process. We also miss an eloquent surrender while resting in the possibility that just because I don’t know—doesn’t mean—it is unknown.
Our tendency is to separate our lives into bits and pieces, so we can understand everything, cope and survive. We set aside the idea that pain is purposeful. We do not have the capability nor the capacity to control everything. Most of our lives are metered by standards that begin and end. If we peer at life through the lens of a journey, there is no goal. All of our effort, talent and energy is not directed at the loss therefore the journey allows the pain to be more bearable and the process to flow. Growth could be easily deterred if the future was known. A journey allows for adjustment, integration, and transformation.
Pain has purpose. It is a part of the journey. We view it as bad in all circumstances. We fear it and attempt to eradicate it immediately through medications, distractions, and even blaming others. When the focus on the pain is all about its elimination, the sense of any purpose or growth is forfeited. We often get stuck because we neglect to consider this moment as an opportunity of life.
Grief is life’s rare unique opportunity. Every journey is singular, yet there are commonalities among us. Grief calls us out of our comfort zone offering us a perspective to see reality differently. Grief exposes us to an authentic undiluted time and space to re-evaluate our lives often in ways that we would not consider except we have now experienced this loss. Many attempt to go back to the way it was before the loss. The truth is – it will never be the same. One can only try to create a facsimile of the original while struggling to find a balance in life. We need to press on (or even force ourselves) through the grief journey. This stance is terribly difficult. Grief will deepen and expand you if you engage, embrace and experience the fullness of the loss. Choose to believe there is painstaking meaning where goodness can arise as endings are completed. Grief and Loss is my passion and this is why!