What You’ve Gained

What Ive Gained PostitUnfortunately, as you may have read, my family has faced a significant amount of loss over the past week.  We’ve said an untimely goodbye to two great men, my father-in-law, Steven Hammer, and my grandfather, Sidney Carr.  Each of my relatives and I feel an immense amount of sadness we are trying hard to overcome.

In my rational mind, I know that healing will happen, but I will always feel the pain of their absence.  One rabbi said that the death of a loved one is like a cut on your arm.  Initially, the pain is real, palpable.  And, then, it scabs over, heals and you are left with a scar.  From time to time, be it due to the weather or the phase of the moon or for no reason at all, you’ll feel a tug in the place where the scar is.  You can’t exactly address the pain, but you know it’s there and you are reminded of what you’ve lost.

A friend had a wonderfully profound thought on the whole matter.  He said, “I choose to think about it not as what I’ve lost, but as what I’ve gained.”  Whoa.  Beautiful.

Give that a little consideration.  What if, in the course of dealing with disappointment, or tragedy, or loss of whatever magnitude, we step outside of our grief and pay homage to the ways in which our lives have been enhanced by people, places, things and experiences?  Talk about an abundance mentality.

Thinking about this outside the context of the death of a loved one, I’ll point to those in career transition for a moment.  Whenever someone tells me they’ve lost their job and are now looking for a job, the advice I always offer is to grieve… get it all out.  Then, get a giant suitcase… open it up… take any residual resentment and stuff it into the suitcase… close up the suitcase… tuck it under the bed… and, never bring it out again!  Others – be they potential employers, fellow job seekers, friends, family or other connections do not want to hear about your misery.  However, what they do want to hear about is what you learned, what experiences you had, what you love to do.  Those are all engaging, energizing conversations waiting to be had.

A few takeaways to keep in mind:

  1. What growth have we without loss?  Rarely would an employer be interested in someone who hasn’t lost or failed as the candidates likely has not learned enough to be truly useful or insightful, right?
  2. Celebrate your losses as they are really giant wins.  Losses lead to lessons learned, stories to tell, experiences to draw from.  More is surely gained than lost in the end.
  3. We go through life making memories.  Grief is real, but it is the dance partner of our wonderful memories and experiences.  That’s what makes it all worthwhile.

So, yes, grieve, as needed.  Then, sit up nice and tall, lift your face, smile – decide you’re going to change your perspective.  Think not about what you’ve lost.  Instead, think about the people who have come into your life.  Think about the impact they’ve had and the impression they’ve made.  Think about ways they have helped you to become a better person.  Think about the jobs, the experiences, the opportunities that have enhanced your life and who you are.  Think about what you’ve gained.

3 thoughts to “What You’ve Gained”

  1. I could not have said it better Alana. Cherish all that life offers and never let it consume you. Defining moments make us stronger, wiser and better. I always say that Life is too short for bad coffee!

  2. Great post, Alana. As I grieve empathetically for your loss, and am reminded of those I also have experienced, I’m also reminded of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” I appreciate your sharing these stories of two clearly amazing humans. How lucky you are indeed, and we by proxy.

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