A friend who is prone to depression asked me a question that is difficult to answer
easily. It’s a common question: How do we get through a difficult loss without becoming
depressed when depression is our conditioned response?
The uneasy part of the answer is that no easy answer exists. In truth, it is going to
include a dose of even more difficult news that is best absorbed before the loss occurs.
Nothing lasts.
I should state here that I am not a therapist. I have studied grief, lived with some of it
myself, taught workshops on death and dying, and listened as a spiritual counselor to
many who were feeling overwhelmed by the anguishing loss of loved ones or promising
dreams. I can only share what I’ve learned from experience along the way.
Okay, to the uneasy truths… We need to prepare for certainties that are preordained.
Life happens according to its agenda, not ours. Furthermore, everything finite – people,
our pets, our own bodies too – comes with an expiration date engraved somewhere
inside it. This isn’t personal, so don’t make it that.
If we know these truths going in, we can get through the toughest blows without losing
our balance, and get out at the end with gratitude and a loving smile for all that life has
given us, blessings and adversities alike. Because all are blessings to grow on.
Grief, as many have observed, is not a just-get-over-it experience. No one gets a free
pass. But how do we keep it from becoming a ball and chain? Again, it isn’t a personal
afront or punishment. Grief is meant to be absorbed, uplifted and assimilated calmly
over time. When you give it a resting place in your heart, gratefully embraced, it stops
beating you down.

We are emotional creatures who tend to let outward events whirl us around.
Circumstances are neutral, Paramhansa Yogananda said. It is we who submit to the whirl of meaning we
give them. This can be exhausting when the meaning given is akin to assault and
battery. “Don’t do that,” we tell ourselves, but often we’re unable not to. Our habit
overrides our will.
I shared in a recent piece that it helps to see things as already broken. That includes
relationships, the mortal aspect of which is bound to end sooner or later because
nothing mortal doesn’t. Is that cause for paralyzing grief, or could the truth of it add a
deeper dimension to our enjoyment of what it is while it is?
Loving that people, pets and things are with us for only a while is a way of setting them
free and ourselves even more so. The longer we live, the more death we must accept.
The alternative has no upside. It just hurts.
As Maria Warner said to her loving husband Devarshi as she prepared them for her
departure, “Detach [from the hard stuff ahead]. Control the reactive process. And live
the teachings.”

Love never dies. Why let its transition to another plane of being drive us into an agony
that holds us hostage? Grieve, yes, but lovingly guide its pain to where it can soften.
That’s where the upside lies, where wishing for what used to be can move to a sweeter
place. Not easy, but suffering long is harder and worse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *