‘Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality.’ – Lao Tzu
Lao Tzu was an ancient Chinese philosopher; in his quote, he puts into words what many struggle to come to terms with: life is about adapting to and accepting loss.
Loss is change, change is loss – loss and change require processing and adaptation. Yet how do we manage loss in our society? We do our best to suppress it, to push it down, to hide it. We pretend we’re doing fine, we’re over it, we’re not thinking about it any longer.
‘Get back to normal’ is what we tell ourselves after we’ve lost someone, and what we think people around us expect. But how can we ‘get back to normal’ when our ‘normal’ has gone forever? A person who made up part of our world is no longer here. We have to adjust to that, we have to find our way in the world with the realisation that all is changed. We need to give ourselves time to grieve.
And what is grieving if not adjusting? We gradually get used to the new landscape. We start to face the reality that our world is slightly diminished, or greatly diminished depending on the loss. And we face the void in our lives.
At first it feels as if there is no way to fill that void. But there is. As the pain lessens its grip, chinks of light find their way in, and we remember that there is happiness in the world. Maybe not as much, maybe not as intense and pure as it once was, but it can still be found.
So, we turn towards that, gradually. Turning our face towards the future but knowing that the scar of loss will be with us, always.
We have faced the reality, not run from it. And that processing allows us to move on, perhaps even feeling a little more resilient and prepared for having had the experience. Understanding ourselves and our place in the world a little more. Accepting that life is a cycle of growth and change.