Here's What The Pain of Loss Has to Teach You About Aliveness

Early this morning, I sat staring out my bedroom window at the black silhouette of a lone fisherman casting and recasting his line in the hopes of claiming his treasure from the reservoir below our yard. The last leaves of autumn are making their departure and that may be why I've been focused on death lately.  

I miss my friend, Debbie Ford. I've been missing her all week. Maybe it's the upcoming holiday season, or the approaching winter and my anticipation of the barren landscape that makes me long for the beauty of spring. Who knows, it could be the alignment of the stars.  

Grief is a funny thing. It sneaks up on you at the most unexpected times. Earlier this week, as I sat in the car waiting for Michael to come out of a drugstore, a song came on the radio and I burst into tears.  It was a new one that debuted on The Voice called, Say Something, by A Great Big World,and it featured the beautiful background vocals of Christina Aguilera.   

As I listened to the words, I thought about how painful it is to lose someone we love. How desperate we are to know that they're okay, that they're with us, and ultimately that there's life beyond the release of the physical body. I'm still waiting for a sign from Debbie, an irrefutable message that her energy and consciousness lives on and near me. Silly human that I am... 

I don't mind the sadness though. Over the years I've learned to embrace the hollow clenching of my heart when I think about someone or something I've lost. Time has taught me that my ability to welcome grief is directly related to my ability to welcome love. Because I no longer push away the pain, I've grown to trust myself enough to live through it and this trust frees me to invest more of my heart and soul into my relationships.   

Being with grief is not easy, though. It can be challenging to let the tears flow, especially when they show up out of nowhere. Like in public. For some reason my grief loves to visit me at the most inconvenient times like when I'm sitting in the car in front of the drugstore with lots of people walking back and forth around me.  

Don't you hate when that happens?  

Sometimes I'm brave enough to say what the hell, and I just let the tears flow. Usually I'm not. I short-circuit my grief in favor of managing my embarrassment and end up saving my pain for another day. That's right. Grief doesn't magically disappear when we push it aside. It waits in the shadows, patiently looking for another opportunity to come out and be healed.  

Oh well. Today I invite grief in. I welcome its teachings, its benevolence, and its ability to connect me with my vulnerable, tender heart. After all, that tenderness is important.  It's the aliveness we all secretly long for every single day of our lives...

Please take a few moments to watch the video of Say Something and allow it to touch your heart. I know it will. You can watch it here.

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Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson is the author of The New York Times bestselling books, Take Time for Your Life, Life Makeovers, Stand Up for Your Life, The Unmistakable Touch of Grace and her new book The Art of Extreme Self Care. She was the first president of the International Coach Federation and holds one of their first Master Certified Coach credentials.

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