Dealing with Loss from the Perspective of Control

There is a lot written, too much, if you ask me, concerning how to deal with loss. There are arguments for crying, screaming, and letting your emotions run free. There are arguments for just letting it go. There are even arguments that reassure you that you’re still the special snowflake you are and that you still matter to the universe. For all the reassurances, practices, and silliness surrounding loss, you can’t get around a single glaring fact. It sucks.

When you experience the soul shattering effects of loss, whether it’s a loving relationship, a job, a close friend, or any number of other things, you’re going to feel an emptiness. You may think, “no, there’s no emptiness, only this (seething rage, soul crushing loneliness, bottomless well of tears)” but the truth is, these emotions only cover the emptiness the loss has left behind. Much like your body swells to protect an injured area, your emotions swell to protect you from the emptiness. It’s a natural process.

The Buddhist mentality and subsequently their practice of the eight pathways lead them to not get attached to the world and people around them. They still feel love, sadness, and a whole range of emotions, but they’ve worked to separate themselves from attachment. It’s this attachment that, and subsequent loss thereof, that drives our emotional response to loss. So, it seems like the easy answer is we rid ourselves of attachment to relieve ourselves of the pain. Yeah, not quite, there’s a reason why Buddhist monks meditate for years, and you will not become a monk overnight.

Apart from relieving ourselves of worldly connections, the more realistic thing to do is to realize the roll attachment has in our lives and our sense of loss. Think of this when you feel the emotional rollercoaster of loss starting to gain momentum. We all have a role to play in the control of our emotions. You can cry and feel sorry for yourself, trust me, I’ve done this more times than I care to reflect on while keeping the above in mind. You can also choose to get off the rollercoaster and confront the feelings with an air of detachment. Ultimately the tears must stop, and you will realize your ability to control not only your emotions and the loss you feel, but the sense of connection you feel to the people and objects in your life.

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