What I’ve Gained From Loss

Dara LevanBlog2 Comments

A few days ago, I got the call. I knew it the moment I answered. Her tone of voice, which in the brief time we spoke, emitted sadness, overwhelm, and finality. I’ve been there. Although this passing was imminent, my heart felt as if invisible weights pressed on it. (As I wrote in a previous blog, “The Waves of Grief: A Tide Without Warning,” loss is an abstract, indescribable feeling.) If you’ve lost someone you love, whether suddenly or gradually, you get it.

It is not my story to tell, so I will stop there. What I do want to share is how a day of mourning inspired today’s blog. The second I opened the door, a warm energy filled with loving, lasting memories greeted me. I love my friend and her family as my own. Her pain is mine. So I exhaled when we hugged because she was sad but smiling.

I spoke to several people I haven’t seen in a long time. I embraced those who were left behind. I also listened to incredible stories I never knew, and I hope to hear more. I sat on the taupe, leather couch and quietly took it all in. Amongst the tears, there was joy, nostalgia, and above all? Love.

When you read or hear the word “loss,” how do you feel? What images do you see? It is different for each of us. Our life experiences can cast shadows or beam light. For me, loss used to immediately provoke a sense of grief or doom. I realized a few days ago that the word “loss” has multiple meanings beyond death.

There’s the loss of a job. Financial strains often arise. Emotions swing like an unpredictable pendulum. Stability and foundation is rocked. And the aftershock can continue for months.

There’s the loss of a marriage. I am blessed and beyond grateful for my husband. Some say we are lucky. The luck part is that our paths crossed in 1997. The rest of our incredible relationship is a result of respect, loyalty, passion, and nurturing. I cannot personally relate to the loss of ending a marriage. And I thankfully never will. But I been there for friends who have experienced this painful heartbreak. I’ve witnessed and empathized with their suffering. 

Then there’s the loss of a friendship. THAT I have experienced. Any person reading this knows the piercing pain of parting ways. Sometimes friendship ends for no known reason. Sometimes people outgrow each other. Other times a relationship’s road becomes a dead end rather than continuing to intersect. I am almost 44 years old, and it still hurts. Authentic, enduring friendships encompass trust, honoring each other, and unconditional love. Losing a friend, especially for people like me who take friendship so seriously, can hurt nearly as much as death.

There are many other types of loss as well. The loss of youth signifies the end of innocence. It’s also the beginning of independence, responsibility, and physical changes. The loss of health is another ever-shifting loss. This can be life altering and permanently change how you live.

And there’s the excruciating loss of discovering a person is not who you perceived he or she to be. I am referring to a close friend or family member who is alive. As you awaken and/or one’s true essence is revealed, there is a palpable loss of who you thought someone was.

I’m sure you can suggest other types of loss I have not included. And I’d love to hear from you! Rather than focusing on the absence and what (or who) may be missing, I am going to share what I’ve gained from many losses.

When I decided to leave my first job, I gained a a clearer sense of who I am in the professional arena. I learned to advocate for myself in an uncomfortable, controlling environment. I also gained confidence and clarity. This loss reinforced my strong ethics, and what I would and would not be willing to do.

I am grateful that I have not lost many friendships. But the number is irrelevant. Even the loss of one person you held dear and trusted deeply can temporarily unravel you. I am thankful for those who left my life and the time we shared.  I learned about living without apology. I’ve also gained deeper discernment regarding who I allow into my inner circle. I’ve established firmer, broader boundaries for what I will and won’t tolerate.

Wholehearted, compassionate people have entered my life in beautiful, unexpected ways. I have gained extraordinary friendships with other like-minded souls. We celebrate our joys, give support during sorrow, share from the heart, and genuinely love without judgment. And some friends who were once close are still part of my life but in a different, distanced way. And that is wonderful, too.

The loss of a person, a friend or a family member, who you thought you knew is tough. I want to be completely raw and real: It is like a lifetime of perpetually changing weather. The winds can and do change direction without warning. But when the fog clears, you cannot unsee what you now know.

After years of making excuses, looking the other way, and denying the truth, I have finally started to let go. You can choose to wear a specific, protective coat depending on the changing climate. Or you can remove yourself completely. I’ve learned that I will continue to be an optimist and maintain a positive perspective while simultaneously living a life of truth. 

And I have gained much wisdom from these losses. I have honed my intuition and insight. I have gone inward and asked myself difficult questions. When the answers arise, I stop and listen to them. I now make decisions with ease and inner knowing, although it’s only recently gotten easier. 

I know it is hard, but don’t let the shock or sadness of a loss hijack your happiness. We all become cracked and broken throughout our lives. But that is how the light gets in. The space created makes room for what or whom nourishes your spirit. When you look back at losses, I hope you also realize all you’ve gained. 

2 Comments on “What I’ve Gained From Loss”

  1. It’s true that loss comes in many forms. Some losses are more complex than others. Some are worth remembering others are not. Yet with each loss we learn more about ourselves and who we are. We move forward by turning to our inner strength to move on. It was once said that sadness flies away on the wings of time.

Leave a Reply

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