***Dedicated to my dear Mother, rest in peace. 3/24/39-4/29/21***
It is human nature to resist change and loss. We prefer to keep things the same, often to our detriment. We hold on to – even cling to – toxic relationships, bad jobs, unhealthy lifestyles. The main driver for resistance may be fear: fear of loss, fear of the unknown, fear of losing the ability to return to what we had. But life is linear, time marches on, and the only thing constant in life is change.
We all want to feel like we are in control of our lives, to be the captain navigating our own ship through turbulent waters. And, to some degree, we can successfully control change. A new career, change of residence, or even picking up a constructive new hobby can effectively produce positive results. We typically plan for these change life events, floating the idea among family and friends and weighing the pros and cons so that by the time we pull the trigger for change, we have essentially visualized ourselves in this new realm. This process helps us ease into our new reality through validation and acceptance.
But the loss of a loved one can come unexpectedly and hit us like a tsunami. We can never fully prepare for when someone we love is dying. Loss, and its accompanying grief, may be the most challenging form of change as it often impacts Mind, Body and Soul. It challenges us to question our own existence, our spirituality, our state of being. It takes a toll on us emotionally, even physically, as we wrestle with our new reality between the fog of doubt and flow of tears. We ponder the legacy of our deceased loved one and then, inevitably, look in the mirror and consider our own legacy. It is a time for deep reflection and a stark reminder of mortality. We must properly mourn and pay our respects to our loved one as grief is a healthy and necessary step towards recovery. But our perspective on loss – how we process and ultimately view it – is critical, so let’s explore it through the eyes of impermanence.
Impermanence expresses the Buddhist notion that all of existence is in a constant state of flux. This applies to all of us from the moment we are born and states that none of us can control the process that we will ultimately grow old and pass away. Acceptance that everything has a beginning and an end and nothing remains the same helps us reconcile these losses and stops us from resisting the pain. It does not mean we like it, but rather we are our facing our own reality without resisting it. We achieve this by not clinging to or attaching to anyone or anything and accepting that change unfolds throughout our life. Each experience we persevere through enables us the opportunity to know ourselves better, to embrace our support system of family and friends and strengthen these relationships, and to crystallize many complexities of our precious lives.
If we come to change our perspective and view loss as an integral and natural cycle of life, we will not resist the change and dwell in the pain. We stop trying to swim upstream, against the tide, and succumb to the flow of the tide. When we accept, embrace and learn from change, we inevitably grow stronger. By changing our perspective on the cycle of life and loss, we are filled with more calmness, inner peace and courage. We become empowered to realize that nothing can break our inner core with all the twists and turns endured in our journey. We are now better equipped to embrace all change and impermanence in our lives.