Present Tense


Goodbye_2012Loss.  Such a common part of life and yet we’re always caught off guard.  So many of my friends are dealing with loss right now; losing parents, loved ones, pets or jobs. Big losses.  The kind that knock you flat on your ass.  We all know that they are inevitable and painful and expected and yet, they are so damned random.

I’ve read a couple of things lately that have been very helpful for me as I process my own grief and the pain that I feel for my dear friends.  The spiritual teacher Ram Dass wrote a piece where he points out that as we age, our losses accelerate.  Our friends and loved ones are dying.  We also begin to lose our youth and some of our abilities; we can’t do what we used to be able to do physically or mentally and we mourn that loss.

Let’s bottom line it:  dealing with loss is about letting go.  That’s it.  The reason for learning to let go is training for aging. As we get older, our losses mount and the practice of letting go is more and more important.  I was listening to a podcast that said that renunciation does not consist of giving up the things of this world, but in accepting that they go away.  Life forces us to become natural renunciates.  The things we always knew or relied on or took for granted all go away.

A spiritual practice trains us for this moment.  We give up our anger or pettiness or alcohol or gluten (that one is REALLY hard).  Small victories that prepare us for the major stuff like death and ill health and divorce.  That is the reason we need to train ourselves to let go and not cling.  Everything goes away.  Everything.  That is truth.

Losses hurt.  They are incredibly painful and are typically a mixture of guilt, second-guessing, blame, bargaining, what-ifs, anger, resentment.  We are overwhelmed as we process how the latest loss will affect our lives and yet, we survive them; over and over.  They change us of course, but that is a lesson too; a part of our spiritual practice.

Since my dad’s death, I’ve been much more loving toward others, particularly others who have experienced loss.  I am supremely in tune with their feelings and feel a great deal of empathy for them.  That is a positive result.  I also am aware of my own mortality and that my time is finite.  I’m more conscious of how I spend that time and who I spend it with and who I spend it on.  I’m not messin’ around anymore.

I feel closer to and more loving toward my family, particularly my mom.  I am no longer taking them for granted and our collective grief for my dad has allowed me to see them on a deeper level. Not as siblings, but as 3 dimensional humans.  Another positive lesson.

When you suffer a loss, it is always life-changing in some way.  It may not be a major event, but all losses are worthy of grief and acknowledgement.  Say goodbye and begin the process of letting go.  You’ll need those skills more and more.


July 26, 2014 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , ,


  1. Thanks jane! Finding balance and groundedness helps as well. Once confident in who we are are, we become more capable of surrendering to the universe and accepting what is and not what we want. Grieving is a messy event and different every time.

    I have found that forgiveness resonates around certain types of grief and being able to let go is so important. The purpose of forgiveness isn’t to let the other person off the hook; it’s about freeing yourself from the past so you can live more freely in the present.

    Remember, we all need to stretch to grow!

    Comment by Phil | July 26, 2014 | Reply

    • Phil
      Stretching and growing hurts:) But it’s necessary. I’ve learned an incredible amount about myself over the past year; a spiritual growth spurt. Thanks

      Comment by janelondon | July 26, 2014 | Reply

  2. As I process the upcoming loss of my beautiful Great Dane, Addie,I am led back to the memories of my father’s death. Some would reject that comparison, but my emotions are not dictated by those differences, instead my soul acknowledges that yet another great love in my life is coming to an end.

    I am finding that I want to be pragmatic about saying goodbye to Addie; I tell myself things like “She is a ten year old Dane, of course you are at this stage of her life, you knew this was part of the package”, and yet, I am thrilled to find that I have not become such a robot as too believe my own rhetoric.

    We train ourselves to cut our losses and to go immediately to “the next thing”; grief, however, does not allow us to do so. There is a saying, and I do not know from where it came, “religion is for those afraid of going to hell, and spirituality is for those who have already been there”. I have always loved that saying, but, in that saying is one of the greatest lessons in letting go that I have experienced. Letting go of principles that do not work in my life. While my father was dying I was surrounded by people who were praying for the outcome to change, my 79 year old father was in respiratory failure, and yet I kept hearing people around me say, “God can heal him if he wants”. And as you can probably tell, I did not find solace in that with Dad, and I do not find solace in that with Addie’s upcoming death. When the inevitable comes, as death always will, I don’t want to be left with, “Why didn’t God love me enough to answer my plea”, when I know that death, as much as it stinks, is part of life, and the death of a loved one, a pet, or a dream, is merely part of the cycle, and not a judgement from God.

    Letting go is a life long journey, the five stages of death and dying; anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, are the same no matter the loss. Each time that I practice the dance of letting go, the better I become at letting go, and yet the tears are the same, the pain is as intense, and the emotional exhaustion will come.

    I have heard many people express “I tend to let go with a clenched fist”; this is usually said with an air of disappointment, but I am proud that I let go so reluctantly, for it is in my reluctance to let go that I reside in my love of life, and all of the gifts that life offers. If this should cause me a longer dance with my emotions then so be it. This is after all my journey, and it is my loss, and although I won’t chase the pain you can bet that I will not run from it.

    Comment by Ken Hopping | July 26, 2014 | Reply

    • Ken
      That is beautiful. So eloquent. We fight so hard against death and loss and yet it’s always coming for us, nipping at our heels. Regarding your beautiful Addie. I lost my canine soul mate last fall and I still feel her loss so acutely, every single day. More so than losing my father and I think that is two-fold; I feel as if I should have done more for her to prolong her life and she lived with me and looked me in the eye every single day for 11 years. My dad was 93 and lived a long, full life and his effect is living on in me. I refuse to feel guilty or silly for continuing to grieve for my dog.
      Either way….so difficult to say goodbye. I wish you well on your journey, Ken. Thank you so much for the note.

      Comment by janelondon | July 26, 2014 | Reply

  3. So very well said Jane. I agree 100% with the loss of a canine family member and felt exactly the same way with our Golden. I feel good about not prolonging her pain but that selfishness of wanting just another walk with her creeps in. Take care friend.

    Comment by Tim Lankerd, Ann Arbor, Mi. | July 26, 2014 | Reply

  4. Thank you Jane. I lost my mother last August. Reading your post and following your journey to healing is helpful to me. Letting go is hard. I am an only child, of a single mother. I am finding strength in her friends, my father, and my friends and extended in law family.

    Comment by msmonkeytoes | July 26, 2014 | Reply

  5. Lovely. Thank you for your willingness to share your own pain to help us with ours.

    Comment by talktraffic28 | July 27, 2014 | Reply

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