Our experiences often repeat themselves.
This might sound awful, especially if the experience was disappointing. But, the good news is that when we frequently experience something, we also learn how to react to it.
Letting go of people we love is one of those inevitable experiences we must go through. Learning how to react to loss is even harder than going through the loss itself.
How do we move on when it’s so challenging to adapt to a loved one’s absence? The stage between letting go and moving on is the hardest—it’s almost impossible to adapt to the absence or to rationalize what’s happening.
This stage naturally lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. However, later, when the pain naturally subsides, we might willingly hold on to our misery. I’ve realized that we tend to prolong this period that’s meant to be temporary.
Personally, I’ve gone through many losses—I’ve lost people to death and to breakups. Over time, I have discovered that I am my own hindrance to moving on. However, I am also the solution.
Now, whenever I’m faced with a loss, I remember to focus on these three things:
>> Focus on the emotions.
>> Focus on the lessons.
>> Focus on myself.
Our emotions. They run rampant during the period that we tend to prolong. When we lose someone, a wide range of emotions washes over us. Mostly anger, judgment, and aversion come to the surface. Whatever emotions I feel, I’ve learned to simply observe them and let them be.
It’s imperative to teach ourselves to grieve. In other words, we shouldn’t feel bad about feeling bad. Avoiding negative emotions only brushes them under the rug—they will reappear sooner or later in other experiences. This is tricky, because when we allow ourselves to grieve, we must grieve with mindfulness, which means that we shouldn’t get attached to the negative feelings we experience.
We’re all prone to become addicted to the pain (this is precisely why we indirectly prolong the pain). What is important is how we grieve and how we express our sorrow.
When we grieve, we should keep in mind that we do so only to feel better and not to repress emotion. We could cry, write our emotions down, or talk to a trusted friend. That said, we shouldn’t think that we grieve because we deserve misery or think that this is how we will feel for the rest of our lives. Grieve for the sake of grieving—to allow yourself to feel the pain and begin to release it—no less, no more.
The lessons. Part of our misery and refusal to move on is because of the inability to see the benefits of loss. This is why when we lose someone, we try so hard to hang on to them. Instead of taking a step ahead to cross the river, we forget the notion of reaching the other side, and instead, we focus on the spot we’re standing on.
I’ve found it quite beneficial to extract the lessons experiencing loss emits. Eventually—sometimes, after many years—we realize why we had to lose a certain person, and we understand the lessons behind it. However, we can actually do it right now, because it will also help us process the loss.
Once we can glean some understanding of the benefits that occur after losing someone we love, we will no longer perceive it as a loss—we can see it as a win, because we’ve learned something. Get a pen and a paper, and write down what the loss has prompted (or could prompt) within you. Write down all the good things that you may do now, experience, or become. In other words, cross the river. There’s something good on the other side.
Yourself. When we let go of someone, our entire focus shifts onto them and the situation. This is why once the pain fades away, we often feel a bit as though we’ve lost ourselves. We feel like a different person or as if we’re meeting ourselves anew. While we don’t want to just brush the situation under the rug, we must also try not to give it more attention than it deserves. Give some attention to yourself.
I have trained myself to shift the focus on me—and this is linked to the two previous notions of focusing on our emotions and the lessons. It is a wonderful time to apply what we have learned from the loss and to process our emotions. Focusing on ourselves gives us the opportunity to get to know ourselves on a deeper level. Don’t miss this chance.