“I didn’t see that coming” is a common phrase said by someone who has been completely blind-sided by the unexpected, in this case, the unanticipated loss of something cherished. It is the mental, psychological and emotional energy created from this loss that forcefully thrusts us into a tailspin of thoughts and emotions we would rather not think and feel!
As humans, we operate as though life is predicable, never thinking that at any moment there could be a huge interruption in it that informs us otherwise. But, what’s really so is this; life is made up of a series of many random events that we have very little conscious control over. Sometimes we go for long periods of time without one unpleasant experience, then… something happens… and maybe we experience a long string of them.
I remember, as a 26 year-old, being hit with the shocking news that I had a brain tumor! “How could that be?” I thought. After a painstaking surgery and tedious recovery, I remember myself proudly saying to someone, “Well, that was a huge thing for someone so young to go through. The odds of something that bad happening again in my life are now quite remote!”… as if life actually cared enough to keep track of the odds!
Of course, despite my confident declaration, I still continued to experience the occasional unexpected “bad” happenings in life, just the same.
But regardless of the odds or degree of “bad” experienced, all loss, however slight or traumatic, is followed by grief to some degree or another. There are many ideas in the world about the grief process; some say there are five stages, others say there are seven stages, and I even found another who said there were eleven stages of the grief process. But, no matter how many actually stages can be distinguished and identified, I have found that, no matter how you slice it, there are really only two true phases when it comes to loss… resistance and acceptance.
Basically, the resistance phase includes all of the ways, we, as humans, attempt to resist the reality of what has happened and to make it not so. We cry, we kick, we scream, we beg, we plead, we blame, we lash out in anger, we manipulate, we control, we deny, we threaten God, we threaten our existence and in doing so, we threaten others, we disable ourselves in many ways and all because we are so very full of the fear of reality and of what moving forward now means.
The acceptance phase includes all the ways we have healed ourselves from our resistance and fear. We have come to accept our loss on life’s terms, we have found peace, we have forgiven, we have softened, we have let go of our tight grip, we have developed grace, we have learned to trust, and many times, we have found a way to turn the pain of our loss into something good and useful. Acceptance requires that we surrender our fear and resistance up to life. Not always such an easy feat!
But knowing that the loss you have experienced has created resistance in you is not to say that you should not experience it in the full dimension in which it exists. It is only to draw awareness to what you are actually responding and reacting to.
As humans, it is in our design to barrel into resistance any time we experience loss, threat of loss, fear or lack. It is automatic and is the remarkable way by which our brains cope. Then finally, after all the resistance, we can come to accept the terms of our loss and therein, find peace with it.
And… even though resistance is a very natural and normal reaction, putting us on the path of our healing journey, with this awareness, we can enhance our healing by remembering and incorporating a few basic ideas.
First… breathe! All upsets are reflected in our breathing. Deliberate and purposeful breathing is the quickest way to restore balance. It is the most effective way to return one to the sanity of “presence”. This innate and primal function restores one to the first experience of life outside the womb… the basic instinctual need and desire for oxygen, a necessary component of life.
Second… surrender all resistance. This step takes an incredible amount of trust in something that is out of your hands. This requires letting go of thinking that you know what’s best and how things should go. We often forget that although we think we know what’s best, our perspective in very limited, compared to a greater and grander view.
Naturally, in the moment, we want what we want, but later, sometimes much later, we look back to see the wisdom and even, blessings left for us as a swap for our sorrows.
The last thing to remember is to be kind to yourself. When things go wrong and times are bad, you can be your best friend or your worst. This is an opportunity for you to nurture yourself through the trauma of your sorrowful loss. Of all times, this is the time to learn to truly love yourself, unconditionally.
Life on planet Earth can be very challenging! With life’s constant unexpected curve balls being thrown at us indiscriminately, we are bound to get hit once in a while… sometimes repeatedly. Remember the least stressful and most graceful way to move through the resistance of loss and grief is to not fight it. With it’s great restorative powers, breathing will balance and self love will heal us… unto full acceptance.
Peace be with you!