Learning From Loss

Apparently, the ocean isn’t just a healer; it’s a great teacher too.

It was a sunny summer day and the waves were as wild as the surfers had hoped. The endless stretch of sand and crashing waves calmed me down as I prepared myself for the first time I was ever going to surf. The tides tossed high and rolled over, and the ocean was filled with fun shrieks and laughter, but soon after I had come up the shore, I noticed something was missing; I lost the one and only piece of accessory that never came off of me since the first day I got it — my silver ring given by mom.

No matter how small and seemingly insignificant it was, I considered this as one painful event and spent the succeeding days being reminded of important lessons about loss. I have come and written them down in hopes that I can remind others too that we all experience loss somehow, and although it is uncomfortable, it never fails to gain us wisdom. Here are some of my realizations that may help you reflect positively on your experiences too:

  • There is no point in obsessing over how you could have avoided it. As people who have been trained by society to always be accountable, it’s normal for us to feel sorry for our failure. When I found out that I had lost my ring, I spent the next couple of hours wallowing in regret, telling myself that I should have been smart enough to remove any piece of jewelry before braving the waves. Be it a broken friendship, a failed marriage, or a simple loss of a material object, an unfortunate loss will always trigger your brain to come up with a hundred ways you could have avoided it. While it’s normal, it is unhealthy to dwell too much in it. If you find yourself re-counting the things you could have done, stop. Just stop. Keep in mind that our thoughts and emotions, no matter how strong, cannot bring them back. Moving on is actually much less painful than being held back by guilt.
  • It’s normal to miss what you loss. I still wince thinking about how I had my ring for years, and all the sentimental value it had. In fact, I can still picture how my mom came into my bedroom one day to give it to me. Plain frustrating, really. At first, I felt silly being all emotional about it, but then I realized that it’s completely normal, no matter how small of a deal it may be to others. But if I got so nostalgic over a lost ring, what more of bigger losses? You will often find yourself reminiscing about that object or person you lost, and as whimsical as it sounds, your heart will break a little each time you look over where it used to be and not find it there. If you are in this stage, that’s alright! Don’t burden yourself even more by thinking that you should not be feeling this way. Getting over it happens naturally; as they say, time is a great healer.
  • Acceptance is key. Facing your loss by understanding the emotional pain it brings is one thing; but dealing with the fact that some matters are no longer within our control can be another heavy ordeal. For a while after losing my ring, I promised myself not to tell anyone about it and just pretend like I nothing happened; this was my way of coping with the fear of living my new, sad, ring-less reality. However, this denial could only last for so long. When my sister noticed that I haven’t been wearing it and asked about it, I told her the truth once and for all. It had been a couple of months since the day I lost it in the ocean, and it was the first time it ever came out of my mouth that I actually lost it. Somehow, this admission of reality, no matter how scary it had seemed before, allowed me to think of it as a typical occurrence in anyone’s life. Hey, people lose rings all the time! Emotionally, things got easier from there. 

    If it helps, repeat after me, as applicable: Hey, people lose ____ all the time!

    Knowing that what happened to you has already happened to someone before — and I can assure you it did — will help you feel better.

  • Loss is not entirely a bad thing. A lot of times, the word “loss” has a negative connotation. When you read the title of this article before clicking it, I bet none of you imagined that I was going to talk about the “loss” of a bad habit, or “loss” of pride, or “loss” of an illness — all of which could have been beautiful things. Rather, you have most likely associated “loss” with a breakup, the passing away of someone you care about, perhaps a missed opportunity, or maybe even monetary loss. The message I would like to get across is that, contrary to the way our brains are wired, losing something does not automatically equate to being less. When I moved away from my hometown six years ago, I lost my parents, my friends, the lifestyle I was well-acquainted with, my mom’s home-cooked meals, and even my favorite radio station that played the perfect songs to get me through a bad day. Yet, week after week, I learned lessons I never would have known had I stayed in my comfort zone. Living in a new country has gained me new friends, a better sense of independence and responsibility, more time to know myself better, and irreplaceable experiences.

    In every loss, we gain a lesson — it’s the reason I’m writing this in the first place! This brings me to my next point…

  • Don't lose the lessons. Naming the lessons you have learned will make you feel better and will allow you to psychologically regain your composure and the feeling of control over what goes on from hereon forward. In the case of my little silver ring now in the sand, well, I can name a few:  I learned that material possessions are not much worth grieving over, that the Creator of all things can take away anything we think is ours, and that being able to let go of something we were once attached to brings out a different kind of strength in us that we did not know we had. Keep the cycle of regaining strength going; go on and name yours too!

Thanks for reading! If you liked this, you might want to check my other writings too @ aprilmelts.wordpress.com. Ciao!

Published by April Jillian

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