We need to re-train ourselves to live with death and the process of death in deeper and healthier ways that include all the hidden opportunities death affords. This is hard to practice when dying only comes around occasionally in our families. However, there are other times that occur regularly in life that we can use to practice dealing with the inevitable loss of a loved one and for that matter our own future death.
Here are some other types of ‘death’ that we can practice with in order to learn some closure skills that will stand us in good stead.
Fired from a job End of a relationship
Completion of a project End of a day
Depletion of your bank account Sale of a car
Death of a dream Death of an age or era
Loss of mobility Loss of a faculty (sight, hearing etc)
When thinking of death we tend to focus on a person’s death or loss of the body. Agreed, this is the big one, and yet we can prepare for this by understanding that these other ‘deaths’ are similar experiences. Something existed and now it no longer does. Lets take a look at some of the other ‘deaths’ listed above and see how we can use them to practice acceptance, closure, and letting go.
Death or the ending of a relationship is a great comparison as many if not all of us have ended a loving relationship at one time or another. If you were the one who was left it can feel devastating for quite a time after. The roller coaster ride of emotions can be very similar to the emotional ride death of a loved one brings. This is particularly true of relationships that have been long standing.
You will notice immediately after the breakup, that your emotions can get easily triggered when you see your ex-partner, or when you visit the home of a friend that was once a friend of the couple. You may notice the loss when you walk by a favorite restaurant or a special occasion comes and goes. You may notice also the bargain basement feelings of trying to get him or her back, perhaps even denial – “Oh they’ll come to their senses and we’ll get back together.” This mini-death mimics quite closely those emotion we feel around a loved one dying.
We can use the ending of an important relationship to practice the skills of acknowledging the loss, accepting the benefits, saying good-bye well, and being real with our deepest feelings. We can also practice the use of ceremony or ritual to mark in a healthy way the end of this important piece of our lives. Notice how you reacted when ending a relationship. What did you do well? What could you improve upon? What skills, tools and techniques did you learn that you could use when facing the death of a loved one or other life endings? When you practice this process you will build yourself a death toolbox that you can draw on when needed.
Death, or the ending of a job can be equally tough on people especially when the job loss was unexpected or sudden. Many of the same emotions as crop up when ending a relationship will come up as you move through the process of job loss or job change. You will feel denial, bargaining, and anger, sadness, and often confusion occurring regularly and sometimes forcefully as you move from employed to unemployed. Even if the job change was planned as in the case of retirement, there will still be a journey through grief as you adjust to the changes, the different environment, the loss of personal worth, and your business relationships.
You may notice that even when you find another job you are still carrying mental and emotional baggage from the exit of your previous job. You may find yourself wishing you were back in your old position and remembering enviously times of ‘better’ days. On the other side of the coin you may carry the emotional and mental baggage with relief, “whew glad that’s over” yet you are still lugging it along as you compare one job to the other.
At some point it’s done and you are in your new position with no hangover from the previous one. So again notice how you approach this death. What did you do well that supported that change? What did you do that didn’t really work that well? What pitfalls did you fall into and get stuck in for a while? Add the tools that worked for you to your Death Toolbox and do some research on where you may have gotten stuck or lost.
Here is a really simple one!
Each day is born as we awaken to the new morning. Each day dies into the darkness of night as we fall asleep. Death and rebirth each and every day! A time to say good-bye to what is no longer and a time to greet that, which is new. What a wonderful practice! Do you have a way to begin each day aside from simply getting out of bed? Do you have a way to close each day so it doesn’t unwillingly force itself into tomorrow? Do you have tools to notice what you did well that day and celebrate those wins? Do you have ways to let go of what you didn’t do so well and forgive yourself?
Add these simple easy-to-practice skills and tools to your Death Toolbox and help yourself prepare for the unavoidable deaths that will come your way in life.
Look at all the different types of death that remain on the list and discover how you can ‘practice’ with these deaths all of the skills that you can then transfer and use when the death of a loved one comes knocking on your door.
Hey, even in sex there is birth and death! Birth of sexual play begins with the urge, the horny feeling. It comes alive and blossoms into lovemaking and at the end of the sexual encounter there is a “petit mort” (little death) in the form of an orgasm. The sexual play has died.
So, notice in your life these opportunities to let go appreciatively of things that have ended and embrace those which are new.