I had an online chat with a friend who is waiting for a loved one to make their transition, and she said,
“All I want is for ____ to be pain free and have an easy transition. I always thought that when you love someone you never let them go, but seeing them in so much pain is so heartbreaking that I finally understand that sometimes loving someone means letting them go.” This conversation affected me so much that ever since having it I have been reflecting on my own mortality and questioning my life purpose and what life means to me.
I am by no means qualified to give anyone advice on how to grieve or let anyone go, and I'm not trying to, that is not my intention. This post isn’t about death or grief (not directly), but what I want to explore is the concept of “letting go”.
To let go. To stop holding onto something/someone. To release.
When I think about the times in my life when I’ve had to “let go” of something or someone it’s never been a pleasant experience. I’ve let go of a boyfriend in a past long term relationship, and I’ve experienced letting go of several employees as a manager before. There’s something very uncomfortable about “letting go” and even painful at times. I’ve never had to let go of a loved one as they transitioned into the non-physical, with the exception of my dear cats, and I remember it being a painful experience both times when I cried for days. Thankfully, both of my parents are still with me in the physical realm, I haven’t lost any of my siblings or close friends, and I haven’t had to deal with the pain of burying a child. I’ve not experienced the grief of losing someone in the (and I can only imagine this is what it’d be like) “on my knees” and “numb from grief” sort of way…
I say yet because death is the only certainty in life, but is probably the most difficult subject to talk about. To let go of someone this way seems so permanent, so incomprehensible, the fact that you will never see that person again. Death is the final destination for all of us in this physical realm and yet I think that most of us are not prepared for it. However, it’s not really ourselves that we need to prepare for, because it’s not as if we really know for sure what is waiting for us; I mean we all have our individual beliefs whether it be based on our religion or science, or other spiritual leaning, so whether we believe in a heaven or that death is simply a transference of energy, none of us will really know until we go through the experience ourselves. So the preparation is really for the people we are leaving behind.
But where does “letting go” fit into all of this?
I think that what I’m trying to get at is the concept of surrendering and releasing our control over an outcome that we cannot predict nor control. Although the act of letting go is often associated with pain and grief to some extent, there is also something quite liberating that comes with it. Thinking about it in terms of being in an unhappy relationship, you let go of the other not only for your own benefit but for theirs too, giving each other the gift of freedom to find happiness outside of the relationship, hopefully finding love with someone else, and allowing space for growth. The same goes for letting go of an employee, it’s something necessary for the business but it’s also for the benefit of the employee, who now has the opportunity to find another job where they can grow and feel valued, and perhaps find their calling for something bigger, which wouldn’t have happened had they stayed in the current job. When it comes to letting go of a loved one who is terminally ill, I can only guess that it’s just as my friend put it, that part of loving someone is learning to let them go, to be free of their worldly pain. Perhaps I have oversimplified things and I hope that I have not caused any upset over my statements, my sincerest apologies if I have, please know that my intention is always to help and uplift my readers.
Since the conversation with my friend I have been asking myself if I am happy with the choices I have made in life. If I was told that I only had a month to live, what would I change? Would I take my family traveling, or spend a little time alone? Would I go on a wild adventure, or find a quiet cabin by a lake? Would I keep working at my day job, or quit in an instant? Most people would probably choose the latter with their jobs, but I think that perhaps if it made me happy I might probably continue working, but my current job doesn’t, so I’d probably quit. So I must ask the question, why am I holding onto something that is making me so unhappy?
A major issue for me (and most people) is the lack of money and the fear of not being able to pay for our bills or provide for my children. We all want to do what we love and get paid for it, isn’t that the dream? But when fear becomes part of the equation, pursuing your dreams just doesn’t seem like the rational thing to do, and so you end up letting go of them because they can’t pay the bills.
“Follow your bliss and the rest will follow” is something I’ve heard a lot. And so I have by writing. It’s only been a month and a bit, and I’ve had some real moments of joy and connection with myself, readers, and other writers, but I’ve also already felt disheartened and deflated. Self doubt has started to creep in, and it’s a very effective gremlin because it starts with one aspect but has the ability to spread quickly to lots of other areas of your life; in my case it was my talent as a writer and my ability to do something productive with it. Then it spread to the potential of getting paid doing something that I love, a voice saying, “sure it happens, but not to people like you.” Then it started to attack my insecurities about not being able to pay our bills and provide for my family, which naturally progressed to how my bad choices are affecting my children, and onto doubting my parenting skills. It’s so easy to spiral into a negative frame of mind until you end up satisfying your gremlins by playing it safe on familiar territory and letting go of any new and exciting ideas you might’ve had.
Having the knowledge that we all have a limited time on this Earth, I feel that we should all evaluate the choices we are making and start trying to actively live in the present moment. We all have our gremlins to deal with, and have to break old habits of thought that we’ve had many years to practice. Not easy, but also not impossible. I think that awareness is a good starting point because once you are aware there is no excuse. For whatever reason, we have been awoken and cannot (must not) go back to sleep. And then it’s a case of taking baby steps in the right direction and living moment by moment. But perhaps one of the most important things we all need to remember is to have compassion, for ourselves as well as others as we navigate through this new frontier, learning to let go of anything (and anyone) that has been causing us pain. Let us all try to remember that “letting go” is also a part of learning to love each other, but most importantly, learning to love ourselves.
Thank you for reading. Much love to you all. 💖
Dedicated to my furry four-legged friends, I am looking forward to seeing both of you at the Rainbow Bridge X
All pictures (except the last) taken from the Pexe app
To read more of my writing please visit Bump and Beeyond