Grief & Sadness
Grief developed early in our evolutionary history along with our instincts to acquire for survival. It is part of the drive to go get, hold on to, and protect something that is needed. But since impermanence and change are the nature of creation, things will always come and go. The seasons pass, youth moves into aging, good times end, memories and friends fade, pets and loved ones die and are gone. All are recycled, reborn, renewed or replaced, but grief doesn’t see that.
Healthy sadness and grieving are useful and needed to say goodbye, let go, move on, heal and become whole again, When the process is blocked, we remain stuck “in the past” and cannot move on, be present, and enjoy “what is.”
By longing for what is lost, grief and sadness make clear what is important to us. With that clarity, we can move on to find more of the same from other sources, or adapt by focusing on other important values.
An exercise in conscious use of Grief
- Meditatively establish your strength, and then invite memories of loss of any kind: objects, relationships, any contest or goal, opportunity, love, respect, health, youth.
- Fully allow the feelings in your body and emotions, notice the thoughts that arise.
- Can you feel the deep instinctual sense of vulnerability, the bittersweet attachment, the longing for what was to still be, for more of the same experience, doubt of future return of those experiences?
- Comfort lies behind not ahead. The specialness of that one can never again be. Look deeper and discover how that thing made you feel. Define what you enjoyed within yourself because of that thing. It is that experience that is longed for. And that experience lives in you, not outside.
- By focusing on the earlier enjoyment of/ with the lost object, you can feel the same type of joy as the original event, if not as strong. The temporary object gave a lasting experience, as well as the discovery of a new possibility, which can now be continued.
The Larger Lessons in Loss
Moving on from grief requires letting go, the acceptance of change as part of life. Only from a larger view – the Soul’s perspective – can we trust the process of getting what we need is repeatable, that things are replaceable, that love is everywhere not just coming from one person we loved. This insight shifts our empowerment from outside us (helpless victim of irreplaceable loss) to within (responsible for and accessible to infinite gifts). We go from being dependent on fleeting things out there, to having control of and constant access to our well-being, independent of objects. At the highest level of this realization we become master of our well-being.