In a few days it will be the one year anniversary of the passing of a friend. Her exit from this world brought shock waves to so many since, in theory, she was a spiritual student and teacher. I had spoken to her several days before her death. She had agreed to come visit the mountains and have a retreat alone in our place. When news arrived of her suicide it hit me like a thousand bricks falling from a skyscraper. I had felt her destitution and exhaustion several times in conversations. And, here a year later the event is fresh in my mind. Loss is a reminder of our humanness that we enter alone and must exit alone as well.
Two months prior to her death she sent me a meditation book by Mark Nepo. I read it every day last year. Each time I picked it up I couldn’t help but think of her. I couldn’t help but understand the silence in her for months. I couldn’t help but accept that she was ready to go regardless of anyone fighting for her to stay here. That’s the thing about desolation: you can’t see light at the end of the dark tunnel. She was ready to go. She was determined to release the pain she was feeling here.
My mother passed eleven days before my fortieth birthday. When the day arrived I waited for her call as she was always the first one to greet me on holidays. I waited all morning. Suddenly there was this sense of grief as I looked out onto the lake behind the house. I would never get to hear her voice again. The realization had escaped me for days but there, numb and paralyzed to the core of my being, I accepted it standing in a puddle of tears. My mom was gone. Loss is like that: it shows up whenever it requires healing. It is one of those vital emotions that doesn’t go away completely but lingers until you cradle it, sit with it, and accept it. Then it makes its way out until the next time that the soul requires a lesson.
The loss of someone is not necessarily due to death. It can be the ending of a relationship, the end of a career, the loss of materialism, and even the death of a dear pet. Loss is loss and there is no degree to establish the pain of the emotions. We all handle it in so many ways. Some hide it through work, drugs, alcohol, sex or food. Some dwell on the loss and can’t continue living their lives. They hang on so tightly that instead of celebrating the memories of joy they dwell on the missing part. Missing sucks! I have no other word for it that won’t upset a few folks reading this. Missing churns inside, deliberately taking the heart and squeezing it tightly. But to have loved this deeply is to have experienced vulnerability and a selfless act of spiritual growth.
You don’t “get over” the hurt. There will always be a gap in between spaces of heart and memories. Sure, people will continue to enter your life. Of course you will have other relationships, but something happens to those gaps after a while: they become immortal in our minds. I remember when mail would continue to arrive for my mother. I would shake my head and for a second feel angry that someone out there didn’t know I lost my mother. After all she was MY mother and bills should stop arriving. The world should have stopped to mourn this loss. I felt the same with my uncles, aunts, father, grandparents and lover. A few years later as I was unpacking a box in my new home I found my mother’s license, insurance cards, and small notes on her next radiation appointment. Suddenly I was back by her side trying to get her to fight for her life. Loss is there. Just like with my sweet friend…loss will always return when I open up that meditation book. We are spiritual beings living, learning and loving through this journey. Loss is part of our lessons.
The reality of our illusions is that we have no control of anything…including loss. It opens us up, dissecting the core of our memories, and taking in new stories that dramatize those souls. Rumi channeled wisdom and shared with us his splendor: “Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”
Give yourself the permission to miss another. Allow tears to flow. Sit with the grief when it arrives. Don’t stop entertaining the memories. But, celebrate the joy of living, the privilege of having witnessed that love in your life, and the acceptance that we are eternal. The soul never dies…it just transfers into another form. Believe me, loved ones are never far from your side. They are waiting for those small memories and they smile from Heaven for your sweet love. Mucho love!