“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” ~Carl Jung
A friend’s mother is being buried Sunday, leaving her an orphan; her father died a year ago.
The pain of loss is excruciating, leaving a hole in our hearts we must find a way to fill on our own, carving some sort of purpose from our pain, else it could consume us.
I know people who have allowed loss—and the accompanying feelings of anger, betrayal and having been cheated out of something—to keep them anchored to the hurt itself, glued it it, unable or unwilling to forgive or move forward.
I have reached an age where there is a longer perspective in my rear-view mirror than through the windshield, and what I can see is this:
- Beginnings are impossible without endings; they are two sides of the same coin.
- Learning from the loss is necessary in order to move beyond it, even if we can’t figure out why it happened in the first place.
- All growth springs from loss of some kind and our choices in response to it.
- All endings carry a cost. The most effective form of payment is gratitude.
- Life is hard, as M. Scott Peck admonishes us in the first sentence of his seminal book, The Road LessTraveled. I read that book in my thirties and hoped he wasn’t right; he was.
- No one escapes it, life’s pain, it’s just that some people make choices that make them stronger and wiser because of it.
It is completely up to you to determine whom you become, because you are not what happens to you. You are not your losses. You are, today, the sum total of the past choices you have made in response to those losses.
And you can use your pain to propel you forward into the future or keep you imprisoned in the past.
Learning how to say goodbye gracefully in order to say hello gratefully is an under appreciated skill.
No matter if your loss is a job, a friend, an opportunity or a loved one, it helps to be able to find the beauty in the sadness.
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” ~Dr. Seuss