I woke up this morning thinking about the month of November and how it makes me feel.
Sadness was the dominating feeling that came to my mind. There has been so much loss in my life and I suppose that is natural, being 64 years of age. You kind of have to expect that you are not going to get through life unscathed. No one does. It is part of the process we call life...the school of life.
When I try to analyze why I woke up thinking about November and people that I have lost, I realize that it was my discussion with my mother late last night that brought this to the surface. My Aunt Barbara is not expected to live much longer and her birthday is this Thursday, November 6th. But there is more to this that meets the eye. November has deeper sadness that still, to this day, resonates within me. The loss of my father at the young age of seven.
I always feel that I have worked through the loss of my father but it still it tends to bubble up from time to time, making me question myself and if I have resolved the issue of his death still. For so many years I was disoriented because of my loss. I didn't understand the "why" of his death or even "how". But over the years I have worked it out in my mind and realize now that it was a process.
I am currently reading a book called "Finding Yourself in Transition" by Robert Brumet and he defines the ending experience quite well. He says there are four questions that frame our sense of reality. They are:
- Who am I?
- What is real?
- What is my life about?
- What is my place in the world?
He says there are four stages that we must honor as part of the transition period and they are disengagement, disidentification, disenchantment, and disorientation. "Each of these aspects of the ending experience needs to be honored as an essential element of the transition process. There is no single "right way" to do this. It is important that we be aware of all our responses to an ending and allow ourselves to fully experience each stage of the process. As with any transformational process, we don't make it happen; we can only allow it to happen through us."
In November of 2009 I had just finished treatment for thyroid cancer. That in itself was a great loss having spent a few nights in the hospital with acute renal failure and questioning the four questions that framed my reality: Who was I? What was real? What was my life about? and What was my place in the world? I had no idea at the time that my friend of almost 40 years would decide to never speak to me again either. It has been almost 6 years since we have talked or seen each other. I have had to look at it as though she died in order to make any sense out of it because if I tried to answer the "why" or the "how" this happened I had no answer. The answer is inside of her. And I am not privy to that answer and most likely will never have the answer either. And that same year her mother, a very dear friend to me most of my adult life, passed away on November 18...the day after her anniversary
November 17th is her anniversary to her husband. They met each other through my husband and myself back in the 70's and were married in the late 70's also. They had two children and I suppose have some grandchildren now too. All collateral losses. But again...part of life.
Robert Brumet says that not only is grief a symptom of being wounded but it "is a part of the very process by which we are healed." "When we allow ourselves to grieve fully our loss rather than avoiding its lesson by seeking another external mirror, we are reclaiming the natural self.." (p.54)
Transition is a process. Just like the seasons and how they change, our lives change in the same way. We have many moments in our lives to experience change. "Pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding." (Kahlil Gibran) I suppose if I were really honest with myself, I would know deep within me that great things have come to me through the pain I perceived at the time of my loss. I have gone on to marry, have wonderful children and grandchildren, moved from my home of 37 years (a sense of loss and transition in itself yet somehow wonderful and free), plant new gardens, make new art in a new studio, and on and on. Life is full of changes and it's important how we handle them. Go through the process of loss, of grieving, of learning and moving on.
I suppose what I really want to say is "thank you"....thank you to my father, to my friend, to my Aunt, to everyone whom I have lost in my life...in the month of November especially. I can now see that there is beauty in the loss and I can also see that Spring shall come. It won't always be November.