I have always had trouble with letting go. Change has never been my thing. Don’t get me wrong, love new experiences, but it is letting go of the old experiences—the ones held dear– the friends I would miss, the familiar around me—it has always been a battle. Since I was a young girl, I saved every rock I found at the beach (still have some of them), every card I was ever given (still have many of them). I cried at every change in my life, whether it be moving to a new home, or a new year at school, even if it was giving away a dress that was too small or I had to declutter the stuffed animals and dolls in my way too large collection. Sorry Mom–what I put her through!! Even to this day my daughter calls me a pack rat and I usually need her assistance when trying to declutter my “to save” bins. I can just hear her exasperated words: “Mom, you don’t need to save 10 versions of the same pony I drew when I was 3…!”
Why is letting go so difficult? Perhaps it is not always as difficult as I make it out to be, but most of us have challenges with letting go at one time or another in life. While on one hand, I have never liked letting go or change, I have always been fascinated by it. It is why I believe I chose the career path that I did. The ultimate loss of course is death—having to say good bye to someone we love. Even as a young child, I was curious about death and what is beyond this life as we know it, and by the time I was 15, I was exploring careers that supported those who had experienced loss of one kind or another in their lives. When I was in my 20’s, a wise friend gave me Melodie Beattie’s book, “The Language of Letting Go,” which was such a huge help to me on both my personal and professional paths.
So what helps with letting go? I think first of all, one of the most important and helpful tools is to be able to realize and face how much the loss has affected us. Expressing our feelings about the loss, sharing the loss, talking about it to others, writing about it, all these acts lead to an acknowledgment that we are grieving something we care about. This goes for small losses as well as the big ones. We often diminish small losses as “nothing,” but remember—small losses add up. Some of the most treasured experiences in this life are the little moments. The beautiful part of our lives—big or small– are not meant to be forgotten as if they never happened. They need to be remembered, shared, honoured. It is in doing so that we keep them alive still. The love for them will continue on with us. The wonderful result is that eventually, when we honour the losses, it helps us to create new energy and make room for new adventures, new loves, new treasures. Someone recently said these wise words to me: “pain is not meant to be owned (to use as a way of identifying your life and your experience and hold tightly to); it is meant to be shared. This is how we eventually move beyond the pain; in sharing it with others and knowing we are not alone.” Secondly, what I have found that helps to deal with loss is the practice of gratitude. When we are grateful for every stage– every moment life gives us– and embrace it fully, it helps us to recognize that with every day brings new opportunities to love and become transformed. Embracing the new actually helps with the letting go of the loved and lost. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it is one of the mysterious experiences of this life. I shared two quotes this week which reminded me again of the allowance for being open to letting go and embracing what is to come and finding the joy between. I decided to share them again as part of my blog this week:
“Every moment carries within it the seeds of new beginnings, of miracles, of infinite possibility. Only my own lack of presence and awareness can keep those realities from my door. Today I will show up for life. I will be the best I can be. I dedicate my life to the good, the sacred and the beautiful. I will not waste my life today.”Marianne Williamson
Take care of yourself and each other,
– Lori Scholten-Dallimore, Spiritual Care CoordinatorBack to Hospice Spirit