When we hear of tragic loss (or experience it ourselves) words are often inadequate to express the depth of our sorrow. Nothing makes it better. When people we dearly love die unexpectedly, there’s no time to mentally or emotionally prepare for their passing.
So much of life and death remains a mystery. We know our time here is limited. We know our loved ones will not live forever. Yet, we forget how to tenderly care for the heart. We forget how to fully live each moment.
Recently, I’ve discovered how beneficial physical movement can be for rejuvenating my personal wellbeing. I don’t mean activities like rushing around on the job or hurrying off to run errands. I mean intentional, mindful body movements that result in feeling better.
When we lose someone we love, there are no simple solutions or ten effortless steps we can follow to “fix” our sorrow (or the sorrow of our friends and family). There are also no magic words or religious gurus—however well intended—that can make everything suddenly better.
We are here on this planet for a reason. Our gifts and our talents are needed, now more than ever. As Gandhi so aptly said, “What you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.”
While the intensity of our grief may lessen somewhat with time, our love stays strong, powerful, and constant. Like a full moon shining bright in the night sky, love is the beacon we follow.
What can we do in times of tragic loss? We can continue to light candles, we can pray, we can sing, we can sob, we can dance, we can paint, we can write, we can rebuild, and we can gather our loved ones close. We can listen to our heart’s call.
This holiday season, try to create rituals and ceremonies that celebrate what you hold sacred in your life and in your heart. Be intentional about finding ways to honor your truth. Most importantly, be gentle and be kind – to others, and especially to yourself.
What I’ve learned from the many people I interviewed is that we don’t “get over” the death of someone we love. We also can’t fix or placate the intense sorrow we feel. Our experiences of loss — like our experiences of joy — become significant strands in the web of our life story.
When we find ourselves on the unfamiliar shores of loss ... We can spend however much time we need there, perhaps finding solace beneath the vast night sky, a bight full moon, or the soft glow of the setting sun. We can allow ourselves to feel whatever we feel — no right, no wrong, and no judgment.
As we sit with our sadness, we may decide not to waste time chasing the wrong things. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow likely no longer appeals to us because we understand the impermanent, fleeting beauty of the rainbow’s hues – knowing such splendor will not last. Knowing it is not meant to be here forever, but nevertheless wanting desperately to grasp each precious moment.
There are people struggling with the ills of poverty, outlandishly expensive (but necessary) medical procedures, destruction of beautiful, natural environments, and all the challenges and loss that life brings to each of us. There are also millions of people joining together to find new solutions to age-old problems. In Buddhism we are taught, “Do not turn away from suffering. Learn to see others through the eyes of compassion. Create a better future for our children.”