A turning affect. So many moments in my life have had a turning affect. They have caused me to turn from the direction I thought I was following and move into a completely different flow. I’ve learned that changes in the flow of life call for resilience, clarity and wholehearted curiosity toward what might be around the next bend in the river.
My own experiences with death losses – first my parents and then a younger sister, are among the top turning affects or watershed moments in my life. They caused me to step back, reflect and most of all adjust my course. While they weren’t forces acting from a great distance, they did act upon my life. At the time, these losses seemed staggering. Each loss had its own surprising nature. Sadness, anger, alarm, dismay and many other feelings have been a part of my own loss experiences. Only after each new loss did I realize that I was building muscles of resilience. Each loss had a way of preparing me for the next loss experience.
There is no handbook for how to lose a parent or a sibling. How at times I wish there had been! There isn’t however, so it means muddling through. Taking one step forward and being willing to sit in the discomfort and sorrow of steps that feel as if they are backward! The pain and intensity of loss experiences is different for each and every loss. Losses come with such a mix of emotions and learning. The tools and process of mourning one loss helped me navigate the next.
It turns out that amidst the painful emotions of loss there are opportunities to grow.
All the major watershed moments of life have required the ability to notice, be curious and respond with creativity – even when the moment itself holds the intensity of a crisis. In dark moments it is hard to remember that nothing has been wasted.
There’s something else particular to death losses; an increased awareness of one’s own mortality. We will all one day die. There is no doubt that our individual lives will end. We can do everything in our power to live in healthy and fulfilling ways, and death losses invite us to take inventory of our lives and the ways in which we live them. This is a truth for me – the opportunity to really consider what in my life is serving me and what is not, assessing the things I’m doing on a daily basis and releasing those things that do not draw me closer to God, bring me joy or assist me in serving others.
I ask myself the question Mary Oliver poses in her poem The Summer Day, “So tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.”
The turning affect of a watershed moment is the opportunity to learn from your grief. To consider with care and intention how you wish to live your one wild and precious life. And, based on your own reflections, to make the changes necessary to move in the direction you wish to go.
Working with a coach can support you in finding your way towards wholehearted living after loss.
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