What I Learned from Loss

This past weekend, I woke up to the news that iconic singer, Whitney Houston, had passed away at the age of 48. I was shocked. I consider myself to be a long-time Whitney Houston fan and I was looking forward to her revitalizing her career. My heart also goes out to her daughter and her family. I am someone that is very familiar with sudden loss, because you are not prepared and things are left unsaid.

“Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.” – Eskimo Proverb

A loss can be devastating, especially when it is unexpected. I am acutely aware of the hole in my family that used to be filled with so many vibrant personalities. As I am learning more about my family, I know that there are stories, thoughts and feelings that I will never hear because the people involved are no longer with us. It can be hard at times to imagine how life would be if those people were still with me to counsel me as an adult when they had only known me as a child or teenager. My family experienced several unexpected losses back-to-back over the course of a couple years. I became so overwhelmed by grief that I was numb and it was easier to avoid being emotionally available to anyone. I thought if I shut down my feelings than I wouldn’t need to prepare because it wouldn’t hurt as bad. The truth is that if you shut your feelings off, the pain is worse because you don’t love people while you have the chance. I learned that it’s better to love people, because what is left unsaid is much more painful. I had to go through the grief of each loss and allow myself to feel something. Now, when I hear of a loss, I feel sincere compassion in my heart. I understand the pain.

A loss reminds everyone that life is not guaranteed and life is for the living. It’s a certainty that we all must face and it is common bond among all of us. It’s not important how or when you die, it’s more important how and if you actually live. When we face a loss that is devastating, how we rise and move forward proves our strength. You can look at yourself and think about whether there are things in your life that you were convinced you couldn’t do.  The question you can ask yourself is: If I died tomorrow, have I done everything that I wanted to do? Would I be satisfied with my life? If you are not loving because you are afraid to lose, now is the time to think about if that is getting you want you want in your life. If you are not doing things that you love, now is the time to fit in what makes you happy. Take a moment to envision the life you want. What small step can you take today to get one step closer to the life you dreamed about?

You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.- Matt Damon in We Bought a Zoo

Whitney Houston had an amazing gift. She had a voice that seemed to be heaven sent. She lived her life in pursuit of a song to sing and a stage to sing it on. She followed her dreams. Her life will be celebrated because she touched millions of people by validating their feelings and experiences through song.  She will not be forgotten.

And I…will always love you.