Opening to the Presence of Loss

“Grief makes the heart apparent as much as sudden happiness can.”—Jack Gilbert

Yellow and Brown - Copyright Evan M Kaufman - All Rights Reserved

It is often not until a death or significant loss challenges the shape of our lives that we turn attention towards loss. Why would we? We live in a culture that pushes us onward and upward. It is our mantra as a culture to push ahead, to move beyond the pain—of a divorce, a death, a difficult transition. We are prone to skip over the mundane disappointments of daily life—a burnt dinner, a poor night of sleep, the frustration at not being understood in a conversation. We’ve been enculturated to orient towards the hope of what will be, and to will it into existence.

The impulse to “move on” is not without wisdom, as it has at points in our collective history been a matter of survival. And yet, the haste with which we transform a loss into a gain, a death into new life, can leave us with a deeper loss, a sense that we have missed the point of our own life. Loss is everywhere. Loss is what we cannot hold on to. Loss is what we can’t replace. Opening to the presence of loss in our daily lives and making space for the grief, the simple recognition of what has passed and no longer is, is an awakening to life.

Be moved by a single leaf falling from a tree. Welcome the radiant warmth of the sun as it passes through the clouds and then acknowledge the tinge of disappointment that follows its disappearance. There is so often a sense in our busy lives at having wanted to be more or do more. Grieve who and what you could not be or do today. Let yourself feel deeply the loss of what was and will not be again. And when your heart has opened to the losses of your life, notice how it beats steady, moving a river of blood through your body.