Losses in our lives break us wide open. Sudden losses leave us momentarily fragile, with the final recognition that we are not in control. Anticipated loss gives us time to make sense of what is happening and too, how we might respond to the impending emptiness. When we have time to consider what the loss will mean, we have time to prepare our hearts and our minds. We have time to talk with loved ones, and make meaning of the critical role their lives mean to us. Impending losses allow for both sadness and celebration to co-exist in the ways that sudden loss does not.
A sudden loss reminds me of driving through a northeastern “white-out.” You aren’t sure how fast or slow to go; you cannot see what is in front of you or how close someone is following behind you. You do not know if you should turn right, left or come to a complete stop. Unexpected losses grab us and squeeze our hearts, leaving us momentarily without breath; we are often unsure if we should sit, stand or just fall down. When these times have happened in my life, I just wanted time to stop. I needed time to catch up with all that was unfolding in the “now.”
Dr. Brene’ Brown, research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and NY Times bestselling author, teaches us to recognize the power of our emotions and to not be afraid to lean in to the discomfort. Leaning into our disbelief, grief and sadness help us to rise strong from our pain and to become more wholehearted in the process.
The quote below honors Dr. Jon Altschul, who left us too soon; he is remembered for seeing the good in all people and cultivating kindness and excellence.
The quote in the graphic by Gail Galdwell, author of Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship.