Someone asked me to write about mindfulness and loss quite a while back, and I keep putting it off because I don’t feel like I have a lot of experience with loss. I’ve lost friends and family members, but it has really only become difficult in the past few years.
I honestly think I was too emotionally stunted and tone deaf to understand things for most of my life.
I just wasn’t connected to the situation when someone died.
I began to “get it” starting with my grandmother who lived in Dallas. I think that her passing was one of the first times it really hit me that this person was gone. My grandfather on the other side of the family was next, and I remember being acutely conscious of the fact that this was a turning point in life, and that things would never be the same.
I still miss both of them.
I didn’t have a mindfulness practice, or even an idea of what mindfulness was when they passed though. The experience came and went, and I was caught up in it. Present, but not necessarily mindful.
I had a whole story typed out about being present and mindful in the midst of loss, but I got to the end and didn’t like it, so I erased it. It seemed to miss the point. A mindful life is about being here, now. This is important when we experience loss, and before we experience it.
When we lose someone, we can quickly move into unskillful choices and our mind can be far from useful.
Judgment about how we are feeling.
Judgment about how we “should” feel.
Regret and guilt and anger.
What ifs and a refusal to accept the situation.
These are all natural, and they are going to be present, but if we can allow them to be there mindfully they will come and go in their own proper time. There is no reason to resist them, but we must also remember they are not True.
Guilt, especially, is always a manipulative emotion.
The most important thing we can do in regard to loss is available to us right here and right now. Understand that you will lose the people in your life, every single one of them, someday. It may be through them passing away, or you passing away, but there will come a point at which you are not in each other’s lives. What would be different if this was the determining factor in how you dealt with them?
What would be worth fighting about?
What would be worth choosing over them?
Loss is inevitable in this life. We cannot prevent it from happening, but we can decide how we are going to treat the people in our lives right here and now.
Look at the people you care about today, and ask yourself what you might regret if they were suddenly gone. Ask yourself what you might do differently, and then do it.
Look at yourself and ask what you might regret if you died today, and then go fix it if you can.
Be mindful of loss in every moment, and make the right choice now.