Loss. It’s something we all know and it can be a positive thing, like losing unwanted kilos to fit back into that pair of jeans or to feel healthier, yet mostly we understand loss as something negative. Loss of a relationship, whether we ended it (there is still a sense of loss even when we choose to leave a relationship) or were the one who was left, death of another, or losing a job. When we lose something or someone, especially when we want it, there’s usually an accompanying feeling of sadness at the time, and often a period of grief afterwards. That period of time can be a long time, and for some there will be no end. Managing our feelings around, and during, that time can be pretty difficult, yet times of great loss can really shape us as human beings.
I invite you to hear a story, that takes a look at what happens to us when loss, and grief, appear in life, and what we can do to support ourselves and others when that occurs. As we’re all so different, the way we interpret that feeling of loss is also very different. We have to first recognise that however big or small the event, loss can affect us in ways we might not even have considered.
All I know is my perspective of course, so if you’ll stay with me I’ll share with you a couple of my events of this week and how the feelings about two very different types of loss played out in my life.
After a fabulous school holiday week of skiing and hanging out at the mountain with all five kids (actually, it ended up being with four kids, as Ella twisted her knee and damaged a tendon on day one and is now much better although still on crutches J) we duly returned our gear to the hire store and jumped in the car to head home on the three-hour drive. It was two hours into the journey when we stopped to grab something to eat. Then I realised what I’d done. Back outside the ski-hire store I had changed my jacket and in the process put my phone, in its case containing also all my money cards, loyalty cards, driving license and a bit of cash, on the roof of the car. Yep. No surprise that the lot was nowhere to be seen, and I quickly had to get my head around the fact that I’d most likely never see it again as it was in a ditch somewhere. After phone-calls to the Police and bank, my anguish was slightly lessened at the relief that no-one could access our accounts and that there might be a chance it was handed in, and if it was there was a record on file. The relief didn’t stop me having a little blub as I recalled the things I had lost, especially family photos and videos of our time at the mountain. My phone was actually only a month old. That really ripped my nighty – how could I have been so stupid? The family were so supportive, and no-one laughed which was comforting. And Mike didn’t get grumpy, even though his cards had to be cancelled and re-issued too as our accounts are linked.
That night, with Mike having left to go back up to Auckland to work (he’s on a contract to support us while we get eko revenue-generating and is away during the week) and no one to talk to, I had a fretful night managing my feelings and emotions about what had happened. I was mad at myself but knew I had to let it go and just get on with getting things organised the next day – visit the bank to get a temporary card, reinstate my old phone and all its broken-ness, which was why I got a new one in the first place, and set about applying for replacements for the other missing cards and my driving license. Grrrrr. A lovely email from Mike at 5am in the morning telling me not to worry and it’s all okay “it’ll all be forgotten in a couple of days” really helped me get it into perspective. And I realised that because it was a new phone all the data from the old one had been recently saved onto my laptop. Whew! Not so bad after all. And everyone, in the family and everywhere outside of us, had been helpful and kind as I explained my loss. No one had told me how stupid I had been – except me.
So, 24 hours later all was indeed okay; I had organised replacements for my lost stuff, and I was back in touch using my old phone. The quietness without it was really great actually!
Then here’s what happened that night.
I was in the kitchen making dinner for three of us – Ella and Georgia, the only two kids at home, and I. Ella wanted to show me a video of Bindi Irwin in Dancing With The Stars. We don’t have TV but I had heard about Bindi’s performance and how wonderful and moving it was, and I love dance, but I wasn’t prepared for what I felt next.
As I watched the iPad and Bindi shared her feelings about losing her dad, Steve Irwin, back in 2006, I totally resonated with her and her loss of a deep and very special attachment. I started to cry about 20 seconds into the video and didn’t stop. I’m crying as I write this paragraph. My Dad died when I was 10, we had a great connection. It was sudden and shocking; it was suicide. As it did for the beautiful Bindi, my Dad’s death shaped me. I only realise that now. It wasn’t the countless other losses along my journey; it was that loss. The one that has never left me and a grief that will never go away, 36 years later. Although it has never left me, unlike the phone episode (what phone episode?), neither has it held me back. I can say though, my feelings of sadness and overwhelm in my own life have led me to some very dark places at times. My interest in becoming a coach and supporting people through challenge – through the good times too – and guiding others towards a better life all stem back to that greatly defining moment for me, and my darkest times. Each time I’ve emerged stronger and more determined to focus on searching for my best life, so I can share my experiences to support others, as Mike and I continue to develop Eko.
Like Bindi, I don’t feel I’ve ever dwelled on the time surrounding Dad’s death. In fact, I am of an era where loss, grief, true feelings and hurt, were never spoken of at home. Plus the stigma of suicide back in in 1979 was even greater than it is now. We didn’t remember Dad often with hugs, and tears of sorrow and laughter, as we looked back on old photos together as a family. In fact, I only have a handful of photos. I felt his memory wasn’t kept alive anywhere – other than inside me. Perhaps his memory is the music in me and spurs me on. He was a high-achiever and entrepreneur, a creator and a family man, for whom, one day, the overwhelm of life became too much.
No matter how far into your life’s journey you are – it is never too late to make a change. Never. There is always a solution, a way through. It might not be easy but we can learn to choose our responses to life’s challenges each and every day, to create the life we truly want to live and love, in spite of our circumstances.
Bindi is an amazing young woman. I’ve included her video here and it’s worth the four and a half minute watch. How wonderful that she acknowledges where she is in life, and why. That she honours what has shaped her, as tragic as it was, and that she has been supported every step of the way by her family as she has managed her loss. Lessons for us all.
Losses in life are inevitable – whether we bring them on ourselves, or they’re out of our control. Some things, and people, we are better off without. Some losses are a tragedy that we will have a hard time managing. Some losses put other losses in perspective.
Whatever the loss, yours or another’s, honour the feelings that accompany that loss. Talk to someone for support. Reach out and be there for someone else. Be kind to yourself, be kind to others. And remember, we have no idea who we know that is managing the pain of a loss right now, that we may have no knowledge of at all. Be mindful of your and other’s feelings.
If loss is something you’re dealing with right now and you want support, or if you have support to offer, let me and the community know by sharing and writing in the comments.
Take care, lots of love,