Loss happens moment by moment in all corners of the world through different events and incarnations. We have all suffered our share at various points in our lives and it’s inevitable that we will experience more of it. A child may mourn his/her first impacting loss when a beloved pet passes away whereas a teenager’s first breakup is the one that starts to build a wall of self protection around the heart. A couple may part after 10 years of marriage along with having two kids together due to irreconcilable differences or a successful businessperson gets laid off after 25 years in the industry. A natural disaster destroys a family’s home leaving not one trace of a life once created, while children are forced to make difficult decisions regarding how to bury a parent. And how the days have become a blur as a widow reflects on how she spent the last 50 years sleeping next to the man she loved, but he is no longer.
When someone is sick with the flu, they stay in bed for a week. When someone is operated on, they are taken care of in the hospital for the allotted amount of time needed to recuperate. But when someone suffers a broken heart, it’s an unspoken trauma to the mind, body, and spirit that one endures. Yet still, somehow manages to show up and perform at their “normal ability” after a minimal amount of bereavement days or without any time “off” at all even though the heart is ailing. When someone is ill, others check in on them and justify their pause from daily responsibility—as they “must rest up.” But when someone is in emotional disarray, others don’t know how or choose not to engage and expect that everything will carry on as it naturally does. There may be some words of comfort or a pat on the back followed by “this too shall pass” or “don’t worry you will find another (fill in the blank here which implies replacing what has been lost with someone or something new).” Although there is truth to this sentiment, that time can play an important role in the grieving process and there can certainly be an arrival of something or someone new to enter one’s life, it still doesn’t soften the blow and no one can ever truly be replaced.
Heartbreak of any sort is debilitating. It can shake the strongest of individuals to their core, and leave indelible marks and scars that may even take a lifetime to heal, even if possible. There is no set time frame for when one should feel or not feel a certain way, to hold on to or let go of what is lost. But what is important is not neglecting personal self-love, self-care, and self-help at a very emotionally fragile and difficult time.
I have suffered my share of heartbreak through the separation of death, romantic relationships, deteriorated friendships, and receiving pink slips at my job due to economic crisis. But the more I have lost, the more I gain. The more I suffered and endured, the more I appreciate the beauty and sweetness of life. The more I’ve cried for what or who wasn’t anymore, the more I love what and who is here. Every time I felt that life was caving in on me and I truly didn’t have the will to get out of bed and face the day, something inside always propelled me to get up. Step by step, I would take a shower, get dressed, and at the very least look out the window; to realize life does in fact go on whether I am actively apart of it or not.
The only way to truly survive heartbreak whether it happened in the past or in the present is acknowledging that it hurts. That something inside of us is causing pain connected to this specific loss and within our own comfort level, we can choose to reflect upon it. We can allow the suffering to come up to the surface and feel the emotions it stirs up, without judging ourselves. This is not a moment of weakness, but rather a moment of strength. The pain may never fully go away because once something or someone has been rooted within our being, it becomes a part of us. However, we can actively make a choice to let it transform and transmute into something that doesn’t take hold of us. It’s learning to accept what or who is no longer a part of our lives and finding gratitude that because of them or this situation it has brought us to where we are today—even if it’s not currently the state in which we’d prefer to be. But the beauty of life is that things do shift, grow, evolve, and change. Even in the darkest of days, there somehow tends to be light anew whether we didn’t expect it or we kept a hopeful heart that this day would in fact arrive. There’s finding the balance of honoring the pain, but not letting it define who and what we are as people. Ultimately, our lives are so very precious and by cutting ourselves off from the outside world, others, and experiences, in turn we are losing parts of our being moment by moment as well. But when/if in fact we decide to heal the pain, learn to manage it, and find ways to let go of whatever guilt is attached to it, that’s when we truly begin to survive—and beyond surviving it, that’s when we truly begin to wholly live again.