January always brings the excitement of possibility for the upcoming year. It’s a time for me to look at things with a fresh perspective. It is also a time of some sadness for me personally. This January 21, 2012 will be 9 years since my mom passed away. It is also the date I suffered my first miscarriage 4 years ago. As I have been reflecting on the losses in my life, I have been asking the question, “what do losses have in common?”. I have discovered that the common thread of all losses is change. Loss of a loved one, miscarriage, loss of self-identity, loss of my independence becoming a new mom and loss of a job all have change in common. Loss can be sudden or gradual, like losing a loved one to dementia or a terminal disease. I remember when Mom was first diagnosed with cancer that I was afraid of the future, that I wouldn’t be able to cope when she was gone and how the heck was I going to get through watching her slip away. We don’t know what it is going to be like in the future. We can only know how we feel in the present moment and I really tried to just focus on doing whatever it took to give Mom the best quality of life that we could in that moment. It helped me cope.
Bottom line – loss changes you. Things just aren’t the same anymore. Your current life doesn’t match the person you have become as a result of the change. Loss changed my perspective. I realized after losing my mom, that something else was missing from my life. I have since discovered that what was missing was the real me. I wasn’t showing up as the real Glenda. I was showing up as the Glenda I thought I should be. It gave me the opportunity to really look at what was important to me and how I wanted to live my life.
Initially though, I felt very stuck and lost. I was stuck in transition, not wanting to let go of the past and afraid to take steps into the unknown of the future. I was resisting change big time. Why would I want to step out of my comfort zone? I eventually realized that my choices were to stay stuck and keep resisting change, which didn’t feel very good, or move forward and embrace the change that was being presented to me. I thought about what my mom would want for me; me being constantly sad missing her or creating my own happiness by living the life I want to live. I chose the latter and I am so glad I did. It has been quite a journey since my mom died. I filled that void I was feeling by nurturing myself, self-reflection and doing what I loved to do, things that brought me joy and peace. I made sure that I didn’t do too much because I realized that running around like a dog chasing its tail is trying to avoid feeling emotions and remaining in numbness. It is a way of not accepting the loss and change that has occurred. I discovered what I really wanted and what was missing in my life. I think she would be very proud of who I am today. She always was – she could see the real me when I couldn’t. As the Buddha said, change is the only constant. Grasp that and you have a chance at peace. It is funny though that people tend to look at change as a negative and fear change instead of embracing it.
Are there gifts that come with loss? Absolutely but I remember a time when I wouldn’t even consider them. I felt like I would be betraying my mom and her memory if I said that her passing was a gift. It really is just looking for the positive out of a sad situation. If given the choice, I would have her back in a heartbeat but that choice isn’t available. The gifts I have received are starting my journey of looking closely at myself and my life, discovering the real me and having an even closer relationship with my dad. It gives me great comfort knowing that even though Mom isn’t here physically, she lives on in me, in my brothers, in my nieces and nephew and in my girls. All is not lost.