lessons of loss

I haven't been writing much for the past month or so because I have been deep in the belly of experience. Well, in contrast to others' experiences mine are nothing. But, it has been a month+ of soul-searching and of learning to get comfortable with loss.

Only a couple short weeks after Cecily (my cat) died, her brother, Paris, followed her. They were both very old, but Paris (18) had not showed any signs of illness. The two weeks after Cecily died, Paris held vigil in the spot where she took her last breath. I recognized changes in him the weekend prior to his death and took him to the vet where they diagnosed him as dehydrated but no clear cause as to why. The vet felt he would make a full recovery, but two days later... he died.

This post may not be very meaningful for people who describe themselves as not being "pet people." But the lessons I have taken from losing two companions I had for almost 20 years have to do with the universal experience of loss, grief and redefining oneself when something major impacts the direction of life.

March ended up being a difficult month even beyond the loss of my best friends. I set out to promote a month of kindness and felt knocked on my behind with life lessons. And what I took away from it is how important it is for us to be kind to ourselves. I don't think most people place self-kindness in a priority spot. We are taught to be kind but we commonly default to kindness toward others. I am a proponent of kindness all of the time. But, unless we are kind to ourselves as well as being kind to others, we reduce our effectiveness in the giving game.

On a flight from Florida to Portland late last night, I reflected on the request the flight attendants make about putting the oxygen mask on ourselves before assisting others. The same is true with kindness, compassion, love... we can give these things to others without giving them to ourselves... but we will run out of fuel very quickly and it will show up in our lives as illness, depression, anxiety, and stress. Worth a try if adding a practice of self-love/kindness/compassion will reduce these quality-of-life altering afflictions.

My request of you... take some time to reflect on what your life might look like if you gave yourself permission to be the subject of your own love, compassion and kindness. One of the reasons we avoid this practice is because we would be inclined to change elements in our lives that we have grown attached to. We would recognize those places where joy is being pulled out of our lives and we would feel obligated to make a change. We would have to get comfortable redefining ourselves in relation to our level of happiness and satisfaction with life, rather than what most of us do... define ourselves in relation to our level of conflict, dissatisfaction and feelings of limbo.

More to come...