I shared a picture of my summer garden, I planted them at the beginning of summer. Now, these babies are in full bloom spilling colours all over. It made me so happy to see them blooming!
This post is inspired by a question posted by Medha Shri on Acceptance. Thank you, Medha for bringing this question to the table. I think it’s a very important issue. All of us have to face one or the other loss in life. I think I have something to share on this issue just like a lot of other folks here.
I want to acknowledge that every person is unique and how they perceive loss is also unique to them. Hence, maybe there is no one answer to manage every situation. Here is my take on this issue. Being a parent to a specially-abled child.
In my perspective, life is about thriving (which means living life to the fullest) vs surviving (which means just getting past it). Hence I look at things from this perspective. When I hear the word acceptance, I perceive it as a passive acceptance of a hopeless situation. Where I have no control over it. This generates a lot of negative emotions in me. Anger, sadness, frustration, jealousy etc.
On the contrary, when I hear the words embracing life. It sounds more positive to me. It feels like I have some control over the course of events and I have something to contribute to the situation and make a difference. This gives me hope and renewed enthusiasm to work around it.
Therefore, I prefer using the term embracing life vs loss or acceptance. Since life is about gains and losses vs a stable existence at all times. Embracing life means embracing its ups and downs.
In my experience, it was how I perceived this loss, which determined how I felt about it and communicated about it. It is this individual perception of a loss that defines how we communicate about such loss with ourselves and our community.
I want to raise awareness about this so that all of us start being mindful of this. I think the root cause is how we perceive a loss. If we have a positive attitude towards loss then we communicate this to others when they are experiencing loss and give them some positive energy to get past it.
Recovery following any loss is a process and it happens over a period of time. Loss can be anything it could be a personal loss, or loss of control over a situation as in abuse, or a specially-abled child, loss of a job etc.
The first step to recovery is to acknowledge the issue and its level of difficulty. Often finding the words to spell out the issue helps acknowledge the issue.
Yes! I am a parent of a special needs child and it means that parenting is going to be very challenging. It might change how I will live my life going forward. I am feeling very sad about it. This sets the tone for a positive approach to the issue. I attended a workshop on loss and essentially it was for parents experiencing a loss of some kind.
They pointed out that preparing people to answer questions or handle social interactions after the loss as they go out in the community was very helpful to prevent triggers for meltdowns.
Initially, every loss feels devastating for everyone. We feel every possible negative emotion about it. I don’t think these are bad emotions. Mother Divine planted them in our system to use them to our advantage.
I believe it is a part of recovery to experience these emotions as they bring you to some key questions that promote healing. As we find answers to these questions we explore the length and breadth of our character. What surfaces are the values that guide us in our conduct?
As we repeatedly research and answer these questions our resolve to get past the issue in a manner consistent with our values becomes firmer and firmer. This repeatedly revisiting questions inspired by our loss are actually helpful. This firm resolve eventually becomes a source of strength.
The first question was “how will I deal with this? What about my dreams and aspirations of a daughter that I wanted?”
The second question was “why me?”
The third question was “what is beyond this mere physical play of events?”
So on and so forth.
Often I came across statements from the community trying to provide comfort to me in my loss. The most common being “Ultimately one has to accept their destiny…” this statement made me perceive my loss in a negative connotation as if I had been given something less than others and I would have to live with this deficit. This evoked emotions like anger and sadness.
Whereas statements like “This child could not have had a better mother than you, she is very lucky to have a mother like you…” or “the divine gives such angels to people who can care for them.” inspired me to look at this parenting experience as a powerful experience, where I could contribute and make a difference in the end result. It helped me look at this situation with hope and enthusiasm to perform. I found this empowering at the moment to keep moving forward.
Eventually, I started focusing on such statements and it became my second nature with time. Then eventually my system accepted this reality of my life as my strength vs weakness or deficiency.
When people say to me, “how do you maintain your sanity amidst adversity in your life?” I smile back and say to them I don’t have an option, I take this as a motivation in my life to stay mentally and physically fit to support my daughter. It has inspired me to seek the meaning of my life beyond the physical play of events. Besides of course enriching the human in me to understand vulnerability and develop empathy towards vulnerable members of the community.
I want to acknowledge that none of the above statements were made to me with an intent to hurt. They were all well-meaning individuals. But communicating with a person experiencing a deep loss is a skill that has to be developed.
So the point I am trying to drive across is that while communicating with your own self or with someone else about their loss. Try to talk about it in a way that empowers a person and brings hope to them in some way to make a difference in the given circumstances. While acknowledging that the circumstances are tough but they can do it.
Be realistic. Don’t over-present it either, you will lose credibility. It is our basic nature that we want to contribute positively to every situation. When we find a way to contribute to a situation it bestows upon us a renewed energy to get back to the problem.
How will I deal with this? Here is what I think about this and this is what I said to myself. Everyone has the basic intelligence to figure their way out of difficult times. Remember people before you have done it people after you will do it. If so many people can do it, so can you.
Yes, it’s going to be difficult, no one said life was always going to be easy. This is your challenge others will have theirs at some point in their life. Everyone has challenges, everyone feels their challenge is the biggest. Pushing your limits and challenging yourself is the only way to a more evolved you. This is a research-based evidence-based fact.
What about my dreams and aspirations of a daughter or son that I wanted? Well, parenting is not about what you want for yourself. It is not the true essence of parenting. Parenting is about providing your child with the nourishment they need mental, physical, emotional and social.
Why did this have to happen to me? I was reading an article many years back about someone. They counter questioned, why not me? I am educated capable, responsible and well-resourced. Why would the divine not pick me to meet this challenge? Focus on your strength and not your weakness. This is exactly what this counter-question helps bring the focus on. I am writing here exactly as I did.
Finally, as you start to regain your strength and start recovery. Now your focus shifts from physicality and you start to look at the bigger picture that extends beyond the physicality. You seek the purpose of your life beyond merely physical existence. Along this journey, you learn to live with a more selfless motive.
You learn to contribute to a cause without an immediate benefit or profit from it. Hence you are released from the clutches of goal-directed physical existence and this detachment helps to rise above a physical existence and embrace the metaphysical. Once you taste the metaphysical return to physicality is difficult then the journey continues, right Swami Ji?
You don’t care for the physicality and its nuances anymore.
The whole point of this journey is enrichment and not just passive acceptance. At least this is what I think. Blessed are those who bravely face the challenge! Believe it if you can. If you are facing a challenge, you are in the divine embrace.