I’ve told a LOT of stories that start with loss. That’s the point. Loss is both an ending and a beginning. That concept is so important to remember, let’s say it again: Loss is both an ending and a beginning. As you adjust to grieving about the loss – typically one of life’s Big Three as I call them, loss of a loved one, loss of your health, loss of your livelihood – you are also at the start of something new. And, guess what? You get to choose how that new story goes.
Recently, I’ve experienced my own loss. After 20 years of life together, my son left home for Marine Corps boot camp. Make no mistake, this is happy grief. But it’s still a loss for both of us. No doubt, he’s grieving the phenomenal home I created for us. Yeah, I’m SURE that each morning the call to reveille is a shock to his system. Yet, I’m also rattling around my home – me, the cats and le pooch – we’re all adjusting to the new normal. Ssshhh…don’t tell, it’s not without its benefits. OMG. It really is the start of something new.
At nearly the same time, I also started a new job. OMG. Whew!
It’s made me think a LOT about loss – and new beginnings – which happen just about simultaneously but sometimes – most times – we’re in the throes of grief, it’s excruciating to think of the new as something to welcome. Amid all our grief, how can we consider that this change, this loss, can bring something fresh into our lives?
I wonder if we recognize that loss is a trigger event. I know, for sure, I measure my life before such a loss, and after. It’s not about the loss, itself. It’s what we do when we face loss, or experience difficult times, and difficult people – or just what we do when faced with sea change in our lives. The experience can wreck us. It certainly turns our world upside down. And we go through a metamorphosis. As we transform, it can strengthen us, if we let it.
First and foremost, do not wallow. It’s okay to be in a dark place when shit rains down like hellfire upon you. But don’t wallow for long. There are people counting on you. Most of all, you count. Just for the sake of you. First and foremost. Give yourself the grace of time to grieve and grow. Time heals, truly.
It’s not rocket science but at the time, when we’re grieving and sad, and in that dark place, it’s hard to think about what-to-do to recover from loss. Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t quit. Winston Churchill said, “Never give in. Never. Never. Never.” Given what the British were facing at that point in World War II, his was a pretty big ask. Yet, your next step is to make a plan.
Years ago, after I graduated from college, I packed up my worldly belongings – all of which fit into the back of my 1983 Honda hatchback – and moved to Northern California. Not too long after I arrived, I realized that it was going to be a very difficult experience. I pretty much backed myself into a corner and had to figure my way out of said corner. There’s a saying that the road to hell is paved on good intentions. My father told me that when you’re driving through Hell, keep driving. He meant, figure out a way out. Make a plan. So I did just that. Found a way through it and a year and a half later, it all worked out. And I was all the better for that experience.
Understand that your plan will adapt and shift, over time. I learned during that experience of mine a long time ago that life is about makin’ plans and breakin’ plans and makin’ new ones. Oh boy, THAT is true. You try something and then you learn something – some of your plan works out and some of it maybe doesn’t and so you adapt your plan and keep tryin’.
So, yeah, Yoda, there IS a try and not just in rugby. Trying things is part of life. You do and try and experiment, and you have to go back to the drawing board, and yep, try again. Every famous inventor failed a kajillion times, first, and then they got it right. Right? It’s the same with your new beginning after a loss. If it was easy, everybody would do it.
Make mid-course corrections. Keep trying and adapting. View your failures and mistakes as part of the continuum of your living, learning, and growing experience. Do it some more. There are really no mistakes to any plan and to any action. It only represents our choices. Some choices lead to unintended results and that opens up a whole new beginning and set of experiences. Just make a plan and get started by working on it.
Remember, it always works out. Always. Promise.