We all know the famous quote from Dr. Suess “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” There is a lot of truth within this saying that can be a guide for those of us who have experienced loss. Loss comes in many forms. Sooner or later, we will probably lose both of our parents. If you are a pet lover, there is a very good chance you will outlive them. Or, maybe your loss came in the form of breaking up with a partner. There are many ways we can experience loss in life and all can be heartbreaking. Let’s apply the wisdom of this quote “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” and see how it makes our grief of loss easier to handle.
How we look at everything we experience in our lives deeply affects our reality. It is important to let feelings flow and grieve when we lose somebody or something. I would never say not to grieve. What I do recommend is setting a limit on how long you let yourself grieve as well as challenging yourself to see your experience of loss with a new perspective.
I have lived long enough now, to see a lot of death and dying in my life. Part of it is I love animals and almost always have had an animal. Animals just don’t live as long as we do. At some point, they pass. I can grieve and will grieve this loss. I don’t think suppressing and ignoring feelings is healthy, nor is it what I am recommending to do. I am however so thankful for the years that I had with my beautiful pets. And that goes across the board. Though this is hard to do. It has a lot of deep wisdom in it. Focusing on what happened and all the beautiful years we had with that loved one is far more healthy, and more likely going to create happiness in our hearts rather than focusing on the fact that it’s over.
When we expect something to last forever, we are automatically setting ourselves up for failure. A worthwhile topic to examine in this instance is impermanence. When we enter into a relationship with anyone, whether it be a parent, a loved one, or even our child, it will end at some point. This may sound harsh but this is a life truth. There will come a time when those we love will no longer walk on this Earth with us. We have two paths we can choose to walk down when this inevitably does happen.
One path of thought we can follow is to focus on everything the relationship brought into our lives. These are most likely qualities like love, connection, and purpose. Or, we can choose to focus on the loss itself. Choosing to instead focus on everything we’ve gained from having that relationship will feel much better and in the long run is a much more constructive approach to take.
The other path you can take to shifting focus from the loss of losing somebody into gratitude for having shared a portion of your life with them may look something like this. First, acknowledge the loss and allow all of your feelings to flow. There is no step-by-step book saying how long this grief will exist over you. It may come back in waves and leave in waves for the rest of your life. It is important to realize when this grief comes in, welcome it, then let it leave.
After grieving I strongly urge you to consciously remember everything wonderful about that person. Let all the memories flood in. Be thankful that the love you have for that person never has to leave you. Rejoice in the fact that those memories will last. Recognizing and taking an active role in reflecting on how much this person, being, or situation meant to you is a very effective and wholesome way to heal. This type of consideration offers not only admiration to whoever you lost but is a key step in making you feel better as well.
Within grief states, it is also helpful to recognize all of the love that exists within your life currently. There may be so many other people who still love you or pets who adore you. You can not replace the love you lost but looking at all of the love and support that still exists within you and with others is powerful.
When you choose this alternative path of grieving you open up a door for others to walk through as well. When it does come our day, to go home, to be done with this life on Earth, imagine if others remembered you like this. The beings who care about you now get the opportunity to reminisce in your memory. How amazing is it that they get to smile in their hearts because of what happened between them and us? I’m sure your heart would break if those you lost stopped living their lives because they are stuck in grief over you. Rather, we can shine love on other people and we can let love in from others too.
I want to reiterate that choosing this approach to healing is not easy. I recognize entirely that loss is one of the most painful experiences we humans can go through. Nevertheless, I also want to remind you that grief isn’t easy either. The beauty in this life is that you get to choose, over and over again, what kind of struggle you want to engage with.
If we shift our focus from crying over the relationship being over and instead, smiling in our hearts because it happened, we have a much higher chance of healing. I think hope rises out of those ashes too when we make this choice. We can remember everything beautiful that happened with them, we can honor their life, and we can love again.