Experiencing a painful loss this week as my animal companion and dear friend of nearly 19 years went to the next world, I got to thinking about what is birthed out of loss. There is no greater human experience than love and loss—two sides of the same coin. To deeply love is to be willing to deeply lose the thing, person or animal you love. Try as we might to extend and expand our time here, our physical lives are finite.
I have found that there is always a catharsis that bursts out of the grief of loss. To love deeply is to grieve just as deeply. Women often contact me when they are sorting through the rubble of a marriage or long-term relationship that has ended. The makings of a profound rebirth are always there: a new freedom, opportunities to do things they could not do before, reimagining a dating life, exploring sex again, getting to know who they are without this relationship that defined them for a good long time. If a person is determined, they will grow into something bigger and give themselves the things they had not had before. They will claim their birthright and own their life and their sexuality in a new way. They will come home.
The homecoming is bittersweet. The void where something or someone else once was is palpable, and voids always seek to be filled. It’s just how the universe works. The clearing out that makes room for all of who you are when another has gone can be magical, transformative, powerful. Claiming your love for yourself after losing someone you love to divorce or death is the ultimate act of self-possession, courage and self-determination. As you say goodbye, the opportunity to open to something bigger emerges.
When I went through my divorce and lost my love and life partner of nine years, the grief was huge. There was a day when I was home alone and just cried and let it out for hours, digging deep down into the well of grief, getting to what felt like the bottom. And at the bottom I found profound compassion and connection: I felt connected to every person who had ever lost a loved one, every mother who had lost a child, every grieving soul who was hurting, and that opened in me enormous compassion for myself and every being in this world. I felt a profound oneness with all living things and that grief was part of the fabric of life. That cathartic day allowed me to move forward in love and kindness to myself and my former partner and to earnestly begin to build the life I wanted and was here to live.
There is a simultaneous slowing down and a quiet in a place of loss, and a quickening as life continues to move around and in you, urging you forward into your best self. All we have is this moment. It sounds cliché, and yet, it’s true. Your lovers and children, parents, friends and animals are not guaranteed another day…nor are you. Sink your teeth into life and feel it full on. Show up full throttle now. This is what you have. This is the sweetness. This presence. Get off your phone. Be with the one you are with right now. Feel the aliveness in everything around you, the flutter of wings and the sway of trees, the warmth of sun and the dream that burns in you to come forth. Do it today.
I know my little feline friend is bounding about and free. She gave me the most unconditional love I could ever have imagined. Her presence was huge and my house feels so still and quiet. I’ll be listening for her in the silence and loving her wherever she is. The gift of her love was received fully and I will always hold it close and find comfort in it. May you find your rebirth as you emerge out of your grief and loss, knowing nothing is ever lost, it lives in you. It is the in and out breath of giving and receiving, opening and closing, dancing and resting, loving and being loved. Come home to yourself in those moments of emptying out and know that a rebirth is right around the corner.