Saturday, June 19, 2010

Small losses fill buckets.

I see a whole lot of very big losses in my job. Losing someone you love and have known your whole life tears a huge hole in your world. You grieve. And the world lets you grieve. You are expected to grieve.

But not so much for the little losses that happen to all of us all of the time. We can't grieve for those things. We won't allow ourselves to grieve for those things. We think that those things are just not important enough. We say things like, "Oh, well." We move on.

But do we?

Little losses certainly add up. And they can make you feel awful. Or at the end of your rope.

What do I mean by little losses?

Let's start with aging. Our own age and our parents and our children. Watching a parent we love grow old and frail is heart breaking. But we expect it somehow. People get old, right? Well, it is still a huge change. We often go from the one being cared for to the caregiver. And that is huge.

It can be a major loss for us. But we don't allow ourselves to grieve. We just move on, maybe make some jokes about aging, keep our true feelings at bay.

Empty nest syndrome? Well, it is a loss as well. We should grieve. I know everyone says we should be happy, we will have more time now, more freedom. That it is a good thing.

But it doesn't always feel good. It is another loss.

As is our own aging. Every decade we move further away from who we used to be. Maybe toward something better, some might say. But youth was fun. I know I miss it, even though I am still, by some, considered fairly young. But I know I am not. Not really. Can I grieve for this loss? No. That seems wrong somehow.

Losing possessions shouldn't make us sad, right? I mean, they are only things, right? Perhaps, but I know many people who still talk about something that meant a great deal to them that they lost. They don't exactly "grieve" for the item, but they come close enough.

A pet. Our hair. A family home sold. Our health. All things that happen during the normal course of our lives.

But they are losses. Lost along the way. Terribly missed by us. But not always mourned. Not always recognized for what they are.

Sometimes we have a lot of losses all at once. Our kids grow up, a parent gets sick, we may lose a job, a marriage fails, we may be diagnosed with a chronic medical condition like hypertension. Suddenly, it becomes overwhelming. Some seek out medical help in the form of prescriptions. Medications to help you sleep, to get you through the day. But how about just allowing yourself to grieve once in awhile. How many do that?

Society doesn't want us to grieve. Even death only allows a few short days of grief, then the world expects us to dust off our boots and jump back into the game, always moving forward.

I think that may be why Prozac and its cousins are the most prescribed drugs on the planet. And why heart disease kills more of us than any cancer.

We are sad and heartbroken. We just don't always recognize it. We are not encouraged to recognize it. We are just encouraged to move on.

I know, we can't go around morose all of the time. And I wouldn't want to. But when I am starting to feel bogged down, I allow myself to think about all that I have lost; my parents, pets, my daughter's dependence on me, changes in my body that I don't particularly like but that come with aging. I have lost some friendships along the way, perhaps due to my own indifference. I lost a favorite item recently. I have lost a work colleague that I enjoyed working with. All these things can add up to what we may simply call a bad day, a cloudy mood. But what they are are losses that have affected our world. I shouldn't take them so lightly. I should allow myself to grieve for them.

Even small losses, like the end of a TV series that we loved or something silly like that can make us feel unsettled for a time. When you have a rhythm in your life that is disrupted, it is still a change that affects you. You just have to recognize it, feel the loss, and move on.

But moving on without feeling the loss, without grieving it, can hurt us.

My mom always said, "Small drops fill buckets". And she was certainly right. Small, sometimes unrecognizable losses can add up and make us feel really bad. So, take the time to recognize the small losses you encounter before they add up and become overwhelming.

Before your bucket gets too full.

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.
~~~Norman Cousins

Sorrows cannot all be explained away in a life truly lived, grief and loss accumulate like possessions.
~~~Stefan Kanfer quotes

The garden is growth and change and that means loss as well as constant new treasures to make up for a few disasters.
~~~May Sarton

1 comment:

  1. You have such a good way with words around hard or hard to describe subjects, like this one.