It seems to be a thing around the later part of a year: lots of people leaving us (or as the Lakota say, “Walking on,” which I think is a lovelier way of putting it).

In my world, several people died suddenly in December and earlier this month. I was talking to my stepsister after she called to give me the news about one longtime family friend who passed unexpectedly. With serious pain in her voice, she said, “I am just so sick of all this loss.”

I hear ya.

Another friend of mine recently lost his beloved cat after 23 (!) years. I called him to check in and he texted back that he was just too emotional to even discuss it. I get that.

Losing those close to us is the most ass-kicking, teeth-kicking, rip-your-guts-out experience that humans endure. It is THE big Life Lesson. We are powerless. We have regrets, unanswered questions, and too many unsaid things. We are untethered.

I passionately believe that we incarnate in human form specifically to learn from the unique lessons of mortal life. No matter how developed you may be on Spirit-side, you can’t “think” your way through something, you must experience it in real-time. Like an algebra test, your teacher won’t buy it if you just say that you know it: ya gots to prove it on paper (and show your work).

(For the record, this is exactly why I studied English Lit.)

So we leave the comfy confines of life in the spiritual realms, suit up and shoot ourselves down the waterslide into a limited body and the challenges that come with Living (or as Matthew McConaughey put it in one of my favorite movies, “Dazed and Confused, “ “L-I-V-I-N”).

Loss in all of its forms is one of the most powerful teaching tools since it hits us right in our gut. You have a unique opportunity to review what you might have done better in the relationship. You may see them differently, understand why they did what they did (or why you didn’t). Loss is transformative. Your relationship will never be the same. You’re forced to move on, adapt, confront what might be uncomfortable.

But eventually, you also get the bittersweet joy of reliving happy times, little things about them that you might have taken for granted. This is why I always pull out the family movies at Christmas time and have a good, happy cry. I now see my parents and grandparents in a slightly different light – and it fills my heart.

For those dealing with a loss right now, I know deep in my bones that there will be a time when you can revisit the person or animal that you miss and smile again. You will see how they changed your life. And you will also see them again when it’s your time to take the elevator back up to Spirit Side.

At the most recent funeral I attended, the priest suggested thinking about one of the positive qualities we most remembered about the deceased and working to incorporate it more into our own life. Though not a fan of organized religion, I thought this was very wise.

This is a smart way you can take the gut-punch of Loss and move the needle on your own growth. Because, in the end, that is what it’s there for.

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