Welcome to this week’s edition of The Source!
At some point in our lives we experience the loss of something or someone we loved dearly. It may take us by surprise and in that context we also must deal with the emotions of shock and dismay.
Or it may take the form of a more extended period where we are conscious of the fact that we are in the midst of losing something which impacts us in additional ways.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross is credited with introducing what she referred to as the five stages of grief. Her hypothesis states that when a person is faced with the reality of impending death or other devastating loss, that he or she will encounter a series of five emotional stages:
Kubler-Ross stressed in her 1969 book On Death and Dying, that these emotions could be experienced in any order and in fact you may go back and forth between certain emotions for example experiencing acceptance very quickly in the process, then drift to a period of anger, then fall into depression, move back to acceptance, and then embrace denial continually progressing through these stages experiencing what you need in a given moment.
Her work transformed how western medicine viewed the emotional state of those with terminal diagnoses. But more importantly, it explained our emotional flow when we are dealing with any type of loss – death of a pet, death of a friend or loved one, losing a limb, losing your job, getting divorced, losing your home, your car, your youth, your hair, a core relationship, a treasured item, even coping with an addiction.
There are many other emotions we can also feel and there is no certainty that someone experiencing loss or a life-altering event will feel all five of the responses, but understanding these five emotions can help us give ourselves permission to experience them without judging them as appropriate or inappropriate while we are in the midst of our grief.
I have experienced loss in my life, but I have taken solace in the fact that I could better understand my grieving process. The key for me was to recognize how long I was sitting with a particular emotion and what I was learning about myself during the process.
Coping with grief in a healthy way – for me – means not suppressing or denying the emotion I am feeling at a particular time. And my biggest life lesson was recognizing that the depth of my emotional pain was a direct reflection of the depth of the love that I hold in my heart for that being or thing that I have lost. In essence, the deeper the pain – the greater the love, and that is a reason to celebrate.
When you find yourself spending – what you interpret as – a bit too much time in the pain, see if you can remind yourself that grief is recognizing the depth of the loss. But there is another side to the story… integrating the magnificent gifts you’ve received from what you’ve lost – the sweet memories, the joys of your past, the special moments – and that magnificence is something to celebrate.
Remember the immortal words of the Sufi poet Rumi:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
So love yourself unconditionally – forgive yourself – and celebrate your loss…it has been sent to you as a guide from beyond.
Join me this Thursday on Hay House Radio at 11am PT/2pm ET and we’ll go deeper. Peace. -davidji