Loss can be an opening, a portal to profound transformation.
We all lose in our lives. We all experience loss. When we bring a depth of awareness to the experience of the loss, and the hole the loss leaves, the portal can open wide, embracing us like a mother embraces her child.
Like you, I’ve experienced profound loss in my life. More than once.
Loss, Love and Life
I’ve also worked closely, and intimately, with women who lost their husbands in 9/11. Many of the remarkable moments I experienced with these women came as I facilitated a course on dating and new relationship.
Over the course of 18 months, in numerous groups around the New York City area, we explored the deep desire to love again after profound loss and grief.
Portals opened wide for these women. They had already done some powerful grief work before coming to this particular course that I had developed. Using my own experiences of grief, exploration of self, and beginning to date anew from the death of my late-husband in the design, the course laid out a journey of opening the heart to the deep emotions that had been buried.
After all, if we are to open our hearts to love again, whatever is in our hearts, whatever has been buried in an effort to not feel, will come tumbling out. When we have a safe, nurturing community in which to feel and express these things, transformation can happen – the transformation of our grief into powerful presence, and transformation of who we thought we were into who we come to know ourselves to truly be.
And, when we realize we are still alive, that it’s okay to live again, to really live with joy and passion, we begin to honor the life being offered to us in each moment.
Feeling Grief and Love Together
Loss, love and life are intertwined. In grieving the death of my late-husband, I found transformation happened when I felt both the grief and the love together. Grieving with the love I felt for him, the love I knew he felt for me, and the love I could feel this portal was holding me in, was deep and rich and powerful.
Grief is an entirely intelligent process, if we are willing to open to its embrace. Grief brings us right up against all the things we shield ourselves from feeling.
And, there is deep love in grief. I experienced it as an invitation to come to truly know the limitations of being a human being, living a human life. I came to realize the deep peace in surrendering to life on life’s terms, not on mine. I came to see that life isn’t conspiring against me; rather, life is unfolding to its own rhythm, not ‘mine’.
In the shattering of the illusion of control, what arises is a willingness to dance to this rhythm wherever it takes you. In this rhythm, there is divine love.
In the course with the women who had lost their husbands in 9/11, a beautiful strength began to make itself known from within them. Through our time together, a natural delight in the idea of embracing life again began to emerge. The women organically began to follow their own heart’s desires to love. In some, the desire was to date, in others it wasn’t. What did appear, though, was a desire to truly live again, knowing that it is okay to be the survivor. One can move forward from something as profoundly devastating as 9/11, as the survivor, and learn to truly have gratitude for the experience of being alive.
This gratitude comes from embracing the totality of experience; not just the ‘good’ things life offers, but embracing the gift of life itself.
One thing loss has taught me is that each day I am here is truly a divine gift. Each year the life odometer turns over, and in that turning I can honestly say I am grateful to be getting older. Getting older means I am still here, alive, living in this mystery. and receiving the wisdom that comes from living into these rich years.
Toward the end of the eighteen months that this course was offered, one woman renamed our course, “From alone to alive”.
Back in May, the lovely Nicola Warwick invited me to be a part of a beautiful project. She was putting together an ebook offering titled, “Loss Love Life”. This was to be a compilation of writings about the power of loss, transition and change with contributions from Thursday’s Child, Patti Digh, Margaret Fuller, Danielle LaPorte, Michael Nobbs, Carolyn Rubenstein, Andrea Schroeder, Kate Swoboda, Julie Jordan Scott, Dyana Valentine, Eydie Watts Nicola Warwick, and me.
I was honored to submit my offering to this work. This ebook is now available for download. It is truly a remarkable collection of open-hearted writing about these three powerful things, Loss, Love and Life. If you feel called, visit Nicola’s site and download this work. I think you’ll find reading what is shared here to be transformative in itself.
I’d love to know what you’ve experienced with loss and the powerful tumult that follows. If you feel willing, share here, with us, any insights, experiences, or understandings you’ve had.
Image: courtesy of Tapperboy on Flickr; Creative Commons 2.0