“ When you have come to the end of all that you know, you will either be given ground beneath your feet, or wings to fly… author unknown.
But what if you were to come to the end of all that you knew and had neither ground nor wings? What if all that awaited you was a terrifying fear, a darkening abyss of loss and uncertainty?
There are times in all of our lives when we experience what I term, a ‘living death.’ This can be a period when our belief systems collapse, when our marriages end in divorce, when we lose our job or our ability to do the work we love, when we become seriously ill or when someone close to us dies. These events challenge our identities, how we live and who we are, and activate deep transformational change. This ‘living death’ can spiral us into crisis, because “our world”, no longer exists as it once did. The safety, familiarity and stability that we depended on for our sense of Self has evaporated. In fact it isn’t uncommon during these life ‘transitions’ to actually feel as if we’re dying, as if we can’t breathe, and our heart is literally breaking. There seems to be no ground beneath us, no roots to hold us safe and fast, nor wings to carry us from the helpless pain of our reality. It can be so powerful in its onslaught that the outer world holds no allure, provides no comfort or shelter. In these moments no distractions can take us from the stronghold of our grief, and we live in some seemingly timeless, and foreign wasteland. There is a sense of emptiness, of nothingness all consuming, one that seems cruelly indifferent to our suffering…
I have navigated this process many times both personally and with my clients. I have been continually asked ‘why’ must we go through this, how can such pain and suffering be of value. In truth it is valuable beyond measure if we actually perceive it as an opportunity to become more aware of, and intimate with our true Self. Loss is one of the greatest catalyst for awakening to a more profound level of connection. It is a hard teacher that can impart the most noble qualities, strength, vulnerability, humility, surrender, patience, compassion, and courage. It fosters awareness, self-knowledge, and in the end wisdom. Ultimately loss illuminates the truth; life is transient, all things are subject to natural law, transformation, and the process of evolution. We become keenly aware of what we actually have control over, namely how we perceive and respond to our experiences. The process of ‘dying’, of losing our lives, becomes just another state of being, and we no longer fear it. The great cycle reveals itself, as death begets new life. As we learn to accept our loss with equanimity we feel at peace. The pain of our attachments inspire us to let them go, and thus we feel a greater sense of relief and freedom. The greatest gift of all is in knowing that within us there lies a source of truth and wisdom that we can trust and access at any moment, under any circumstance.
There is an unshakable confidence in one who has navigated this terrain successfully, who has learned these lessons firsthand and applied them in their lives. I am grateful for all the deaths I have known, and for all the ways they have made me whole. I bow to all of you, who have allowed me to sit with you in your darkest and most illuminating hour, I honor your strength and your courage, your willingness to surrender to the power and truth within… You’re my hero’s!
Written: November 10, 2014