While the wounds of a loss are still fresh, it may seem impossible to see any good in it. But the loss can open our hearts to new understanding.
As we can see every day, loss is a significant part of life. We all suffer losses, big and small. The question is, what is their meaning for us as individuals?
Will we grow bitter from our losses and see no point in life? Will our grief bind us to a time past that we just can’t get beyond?
Or will our loss become a turning point that actually expands our relationship with life? Not that we forget the person who is gone or the life that has changed beyond recognition, but that we allow our loss to show us the possibility of a larger world in which change is the order of life but love is never lost?
While the wounds of a loss are still fresh, it may seem impossible to see any good in it. But the loss can open our hearts to new understanding. One time a friend of mine was sad because of the death of a beloved cat. But then he realized that this little kitty was the representative of a greater life. Her presence had brought forth and showed him the love that was already within him — and that wasn’t even his love, but a reflection of the greater Love that created us all. That cat was now gone. She would always be remembered, but the Love that the cat represented would never be gone — and in fact, my friend was now closer to realizing that Love because of the loss.
The great sages have always told us that our losses, taken rightly, can help us reach a place beyond our present level. Here is some of their wisdom:
Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.
— Rumi (1207)
The path of sorrow, and that path alone, leads to the land where sorrow is unknown; no traveller ever reached that blessed abode who found not thorns and briers in his road.
— William Cowper (1731)
The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God.
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821)
Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.
— Oscar Wilde (1854)
Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.
— Marcel Proust (1871)
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirits the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
— Kahlil Gibran (1883)
What is the greater meaning of our lives? Is it to create the perfect world for ourselves where nothing ever changes?
First, that would be impossible. From the moment we’re born we begin changing, and ultimately everything we know of this worldly life will be lost.
No, we cannot create for ourselves a perfect, unchanging world, but through our wish to understand the changes that shake us, we can begin to form a connection to another level of life where gain and loss mean nothing because there is Wholeness.
Use the events of your life, joyful as well as painful, to see what lies beyond them. They are like waves in the sea that all point to the ocean from which they arise and to which they return. The ocean is the peace and wholeness for which we yearn.
Help in Understanding Loss in a New Way
No one will deny that loss is painful. The question is, can we use it to open our hearts instead of shutting them down. OneJourney founder Guy Finley often receives letters from people who are grieving. Here is a question he received and his helpful answer:
The Secret Heart of Loss
Question: My mother died when I was only 12, and my father died just recently. He was 88. I have always fervently believed that someday I would be reunited with my parents, somewhere? But now I’m beginning to have doubts. Does everyone’s energy just become something else and no one is ever again who they were? So in that case I would never be with my parents again?
Answer: Everything “taken” from us in this life comes (at that same moment) with an invisible gift that holds the promise of giving us something better than what was lost. In this instance, we lose our parents. The heart hurts, as it must… and one’s thoughts long to reflect on the persons gone.
But, what if… and this is something you must come to see for yourself… in losing the person we love we are handed the possibility of realizing the Love itself that put us together in the first place? Forms pass; they must. It is under law. But the Love that gives rise to these forms, and their relationships, endures; it is the secret heart that beats the heart in us, and that fills it with what must eventually empty out so that for our “loss” we may seek and gain a living relationship with Love itself.
Does your tradition talk about the greater meaning in loss? If so, can you share a quotation about it with us? It may help others who are in pain right now. So, please click here to submit your quotation to the OneJourney Living Book.
Dr. Ellen Dickstein
The OneJourney Project
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