Monday, March 3, 2014

Finding Meaning in Your Loss


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[Reviewed and updated October 9, 2017]

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.  ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

It is difficult to imagine surviving grief much less transcending it. How do we triumph over sorrow when it seems as if our pain will never end?

When we confront the lessons of grief, we opt for surviving and transcending the pain. If we choose to do so, we can look at the pain of loss as having a specific purpose. Turning crisis into opportunity, we can find emotional and spiritual peace. We have a choice: we can either give up and withdraw into our tragedy or we can grow from the experience. We can either succumb to the pain or decide to transform ourselves. The choice to grow, to transform the self is not an easy one. It requires work, perseverance and endurance. Like everything else in grief, it is a process, but it is what makes loss worth surviving.

Chances are that you would trade everything you could ever gain in a heartbeat, if only that would bring your loved one back. But that is not an option. The only viable alternative is to make this pain count for something.

All that happens to us in life is material for our own growth. The death of a loved one can be a turning point that alters our perspective on life. It is a chance to re-think, to question, to doubt who we were, what we thought we believed, how we used to live, and how we ordered our priorities. It is an opportunity to find meaning in our loss.

There are many lessons to be learned from grief. Losing someone you love teaches you to
  • Stop, examine and appreciate what really matters, what’s important, what’s truly valuable in life. 
  • Live fully in the present, knowing that the past is gone and the future is not yet. 
  • Appreciate the value and wonder of every precious moment, without taking them for granted. 
  • Accept the freedom and joy of spontaneity, to play, to relax and to have fun. 
  • Find valuable insights buried in the give and take of daily life, to slow down, daydream and fantasize. 
  • Simplify your life, so you have more time and energy to share with those you love. 
  • Accept what’s happened to you, roll with the changes and keep on growing, believing that you’ll make it. 
  • Be patient with yourself, allowing the grieving process to happen in whatever way it will. 
  • Keep and develop your connections with others, knowing that you are not alone. 
  • Share your thoughts and feelings with others openly and honestly, and sooner rather than later. 
  • Rethink your attitude toward death as a natural part of the cycle of life. 
  • Be grateful for the love you shared, however briefly, and appreciate what you have left. 
  • Define yourself as a survivor rather than a victim. 
  • Share what you’ve learned with others.  
    At some point in your grieving process, you may feel the need to channel your pain, as well as the time and energy once devoted to your relationship with your loved one, into something productive and meaningful. As one who truly understands the grieving process, you may feel ready to reach out to others who are suffering the pain of loss. Once you’ve found your own way through grief, you will have a great deal to share with other grievers: you can identify with their struggles, empathize with their sorrows and doubts, and offer valuable information and support.

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