“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them.”
― Paulo Coelho
I’ve been reflecting on loss this week. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is bereavement and the sorts of shattering, cataclysmic impact when we lose someone close to us. The impact emotionally and physically is often profound and long lasting. I write about that in more depth in my article on loss and bereavement.
But loss of course can touch us in so many ways. A change in job or career, whether enforced or voluntary. Moving home. Falling out of touch with an old friend. Losing a treasured possession. Finishing a much enjoyed book or film. The list can go on and on, and you can see the spectrum of loss experiences can be very big.
When reflecting on loss, I warm to the Buddhist thinking that all things pass. When pain, difficulty, absence, longing come to call, yes it’s important to allow ourselves into the experience when we can, but it’s also helpful to know we can pass through it, and that it is, like everything, impermanent.
My sense of grief and loss is that we come into it and out of it, again and again. It’s not just a ‘phase’ but a deep experience which touches us with different intensity over time. Small things can bring us back to the loss, a song heard again, an image, a smell, a taste. Or just a feeling of absence.
So rather than pushing loss away, we should perhaps see it as part of everything; the counter side of joy sometimes. Without one, we can’t expect to feel the other.