Major losses spare no one in this world. I am reminded of this by my children who lost their mother to Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease a few days ago.
I have lost both of my parents and even though I had a very difficult relationship with them; I realize how monumental their deaths were in my life. With my kids, they have been slowly losing a dear and loving mother, which makes their loss even more painful than what I experienced.
Monumental losses like this are not uncommon, but they leave us disoriented, especially when the cause of the loss is so inexplicable. Early Onset Alzheimer’s is uncommon because doctors diagnose it before the age of 65, accounting for only 5%-10% of all Alzheimer’s cases. This made it more difficult for my children to understand and accept because it seemed random and unfair that their mother contracted such a rare affliction.
“Not until we are lost do we begin finding ourselves.” Henry David Thoreau
All major loses seem unjust. This has to do with the time it takes for your mind to reconfigure new paths and new ways of being. Major loses can make us feel lost and hopeless. They can leave you wondering how in the hell you are going to go on.
Getting laid off from a job, losing a parent/spouse/child, facing bankruptcy, having a heart attack or major injury can leave you unbalanced, unhinged and insecure. It is like someone cut a leg out of the stool you were sitting on and now you don’t know how to balance it. Yet, unbeknownst to us, major loses can be the key that opens the door to self-discovery, but only if we chose to see them in that light.
We move forward with our experiences
I have been impatient in the past with those who had been suffering for a while. I urged them it was time to let it go and move on with their lives.
But this was terrible advice I was giving to those unsuspecting people. I know better now. One cannot put memories behind; they remain a part of us because they helped shape the person we are now. It is more important to move forward with those memories, influences and events. They have and continue to teach and mold us.
Grief is necessary in whatever form it takes
Grief is best described as a multi-layered response to loss. Its effects have physical, emotional, behavioral, spiritual and philosophical dimensions. Psychiatric studies define grief in five stages; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance.
The grief process has no shortcuts. The pain from loss can be so great that the person is not ready to deal with it. This is a big part of the denial phase, making it tempting to avoid the sadness and emptiness by turning to something external; drugs, alcohol or a new relationship to quickly after the loss.
Although this can frustrate those around, this is something that we must allow, for it is only by trying these things a person may find they don’t work. Eventually, they will move on from those things, although there is no set time for that to happen.
The same goes for denial, anger, bargaining and depression. They are processes that one must experience before moving forward to a better reality. Denying them or forcing them to go away rapidly will only delay your progress.
One cannot reconstruct your life until you have completed the grief process, this is why I am not advocate of making major life decisions during this time. these can distract you and postpone the issues you need to deal with.
One step at a time
The way one can reconstruct your life is by taking one step at a time, sometimes, it is one breath at a time. You can ease your path by remembering how you overcame past losses and how their effect opened the door to a redefinition of your life.
You rebuild your life by moving forward with the memories of your experiences and in gratitude for them. It is not by forgetting or moving past your losses that makes you grow. The road to self-discovery can only happen when you live forward mindful of the lessons these experiences taught you.
As always, wishing you a life filled with joy, love and serenity.
Photo by Cristian Newman Zi8-E3qJ_RM on Unsplash