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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Emrys

On the Loss of a Loved One

Humanity has evolved, no matter the setbacks. What humanity looks like today, even with its present problems, is not what it looked like five decades ago, and certainly not five centuries ago.

We humans also evolve as individuals. We arrive helpless, clueless, and yet we quickly learn to walk upright and communicate with the world. We learn to provide for our families and the family of man. We learn to take advantage of our successes as well as our failures.

We lose things and accumulate things. Most of our losses are small. We lose car keys and reading glasses. Sometime we’ll lose a wallet, a passport. We know what it’s like to lose a lovely home, or a good job; but our losses can be even greater.

We sometimes lose a friend because of a careless word. We lose lovers, and tightly-held dreams. We lose opportunities to be happy. We lose a sense of our own worth. We lose moments, memories, and the passions that once defined us.

You and I know loss. We’ve known the stillness of death and the startling sensations of rebirth. We’ve lost, but we’ve also won. We’ve cried, we’ve grieved; but we also learned to laugh at adversity. We’ve modified ourselves so many times that we hardly notice the changes.

Losing a loved one feels like a thousand knives to the heart. And it will continue to feel that way until you make peace with the truth. You are life. Change is the nature of life, of energy and matter. Change is your nature, and mine.

Loss is normal. To grieve is normal. To recover and to celebrate life again…is also normal. This is an important reminder to a species that thinks only of itself.

Humans have evolved to an impressive degree; so impressive that we think we’re better than all other forms of life on the planet. However, in basic ways, the life of a human isn’t different from the life of any earthly creature.

We all eat, sleep, and create living copies of ourselves. Having eaten, we forage for the next meal. And then we rest. Sleep gives quality and vitality to our waking hours, so that we may hunt for food and compete for a mate.

Without our biological appetites we can’t continue as a species. It’s the same for any animal, fish or flower. Some creatures sleep for months, perhaps years, in order to survive harsh winters or long droughts. Some change bodies. Some change genders. Survival is the point, the end game. Each species contributes in some way to the general well-being of the others. Together we contribute to the overall health of the planet.

Humans are complex, yes. We think and we imagine, but do we take full advantage of those talents? We can’t seem to imagine our way out of our own stories. We’re reluctant even to challenge an idle opinion; but we can end old habits, if we want.

“What’s really happening right now?” we can ask ourselves, and be prepared to answer the question honestly. “Is it the end of my world, or the start of yet another transformation?”

I’m inviting you to break a few rules when it comes to death and loss. I’m asking you to honor those you’ve lost in whatever way you find comforting; but be aware of beliefs that cause more pain. Say no to rituals that distress you. Avoid traditions that make you fearful. Question them, or eliminate them.

Don’t depend on others to tell you what is true or not true. You’ve been in a walking, talking, sleep most of your life. The trauma of losing someone has disturbed that sleep; which means this is the moment to wake up fully.

Now is your chance to see, and to shake off illusion. Now is the time to trust life, whatever it brings.


-Barbara


This passage is an excerpt from Grief and Renewal, a Mystery School Book by Don Miguel Ruiz and Barbara Emrys, to be released this month. Check this site for more information about this book, and other publications by the Ruiz family.

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