Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Embracing Life After Loss

Below are the five steps for fully living life again after a loss.
They are excerpted from Learning to Laugh When You Feel Like Crying. (ISBN  978-0-9798755-8-8)



Step One
losing
If you believe yourself unfortunate, 
because you have loved and lost, 
perish the thought. One who has 
loved truly, can never lose entirely.
                                                            –Napoleon Hill, American author

Losing a loved one is not easy. I know I have had many losses in my life. The one that made the most impact on my life was my wife’s death when she was 34. In addition, my mother, my father, my four grandparents, my sister-in-law, several cousins, and both my mother-in-law and father-in-law have died, as well as over 40 friends and colleagues who are no longer here because of AIDS or cancer. 

I don’t think we ever forget the people we lose. So in some sense, they are never gone. But, still, it hurts not to be able to see them, hear them, or hold them again.
Loss hurts. But it can also help us be stronger, wiser, and, if nothing else, more appreciative of every moment we have on this earth.                                           

                                                            Step Two                                                              
 learning
Turn your wounds into wisdom
                                                                                 –Oprah Winfrey, American television host

Every time you lose something, you are presented with an opportunity to acquire something new. With each loss, there is a golden opportunity for a new beginning. You may not realize it right now, but your loss is part of your growth process. In fact, your loss can be seen as a gift. 

How could you possibly even think of loss as a gift? You have lost someone who was very dear to you. You have perhaps lost the one person in your life who meant everything to you. You have lost a significant part of who you were. It certainly doesn’t feel like a gift.
And yet, it is. 

Your loss is serving you. It is helping you examine who you are, why you are on this earth, and how to live your life. Among other things, your loss has given you:
–the gift of appreciating life more fully
–the gift of cleansing through mourning
–the gift of love

The best thing you can do after reading this is to open the gift.


Step Three
letting go
The longer we dwell on our misfortunes,
the greater is their power to harm us.
                                                                        –Voltaire, French philosopher
Crying is the body’s way of dealing with loss. It is unhealthy to squelch your tears. What you stifle today may come back in greater force tomorrow. But continuing to endlessly wallow in those tears is not healthy. At some point, you need to get on with your life. 
Today might be the day to take the first step, to let go, to move on.




Step Four
living
I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, 
immobilized by the gravity of my loss, 
or I can choose to rise from the pain 
and treasure the most precious 
gift I have — life itself.
                                                                        –Walter Anderson, American magazine editor
The loss of someone close to you provides an opportunity for a new beginning and an enriched life. Once you start to work through your grief process, you can begin to fill the vacuum that was created by your loss with an even fuller sense of life.  

Ultimately, in dealing with a loss, the choice is yours. No matter what the situation, you have a choice of how you react to it. You can remain in your grief and turn your face away from life or you can move on and embrace life.

Choose life.


Step Five
laughing
Tragedy and comedy are but two aspects 
of what is real, and whether we see the tragic 
or the humorous is a matter of perspective.
                                                                      –Arnold Beisser, American polio-disabled author

It may seem ludicrous putting laughter and loss in the same sentence. How can you possibly laugh after losing a loved one? Yet recent research by Dacher Keltner and George A. Bonanno shows that “the more widows and widowers laughed and smiled during the early months after their spouse’s death, the better their mental health was over the first two years of bereavement.”

Laughter is a great coping mechanism. Finding the humor in anything and laughing about it gives you a break from the pain of loss. It allows for a breath of fresh air at a time when everything seems dark and heavy.

Many of the world’s top comedians intuitively knew this when they experienced a major loss in their life. They turned to humor to cope and eventually perfected their craft and made comedy their career.

Your goal is probably not to become a stand-up comic, but you can take a lesson from these renowned comedians and use humor and laughter to help you to cope with your loss.
Laughter and humor are one of God’s gifts to overcome your trials and tribulations.


No comments:

Post a Comment