A-Z Blog Challenge L :Loss and Capacity for Change

for A-Z

It seems unthinkable to link loss and change. But it is one of those peculiar paradoxes we reflect on when we undergo our dark night of the soul and are scathed. Yet somehow, somehow, an emergence from it can happen if we are fortunate, bearing our wounds and scathing with fortitude, courage, forbearance –

When tidying my desk the other day I came across a small piece of paper on which I had made some notes – I’d noted  plugs phone Ipad computer KIndle etc, clearly prior to going down to Plettenberg Bay in the middle of last month for our son’s wedding to his beautiful bride.

But there were three other writings on this small piece of paper, written around the same time when I was not thinking of A-Z posts. On one side I’d noted  ‘J.C. The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation’. J.C. I think refers to Joseph Campbell. Another piece is from Oscar Wilde: ‘… the moon in her wanderings will change from shield to sickle and sickle to shield’. (I’ll be using it for M). Then the third one who I have not acknowledged which is unlike me, I’d written: ‘When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed’.

How hard it is to have Faith when Doubt is its bedfellow,  each sitting uneasily with the other –

A dear friend of mine who lives in Sydney, Australia lost her husband coming up for 2 years ago after a long and brave battle. He died peacefully with his family about him and his funeral was a joyous occasion. My friend wrote to me last year to say that she’d been on a camping expedition to somewhere remote in Australia, and lay under the stars and reflected and thought and reflected more. She’d lost her role as wife, lover, friend, soulmate, carer and companion, important and valuable identities. Yet somehow she felt another person emerging – different to the one before, even if so forced by circumstance. 

Elaine Mansfield writes beautifully about loss: In one of her posts in early April she asked the question at the end of her post (I’m paraphrasing): ‘What relationship do we have with those we have loved and who have died?’ And, does it change? It was a very interesting question to me personally – and I sense the universality about it as well – they are important questions. I would also ask what ongoing relationship do we have with those who have died and also did not love?

Loss makes us go inward, into the depths of our souls. We emerge, changed.

42 Comments on L: Loss and Capacity for Change

  1. Very true, like the way you put it “loss make us go inward and we emerge change ” what a great thought…. coming here to read your post makes me a little more wiser Susan. I am glad I am able to comment today 🙂 otherwise accessing your blog was getting difficult for me..

    • Thank you Genevive .. I too have been having computer problems since my return last night from Botswana and it is only in the last hour or so that it has been rectified – long distance by my son – and that I am able to comment back this late late hour this Sunday night!

  2. So well written.Thank you. I think of my father who died young. I was in my 30s, but still have occasions when he feels very near. Other times I think of all he missed out with my children and now my grandchildren. And what I missed not seeing or feeling his reactions to life. It will always feel like loss to me.

    • Thank you Sharon. I also sometimes feel my parents close by and wonder about them and missing out on seeing my sons grow up. We got back from Botswana last evening where I have relatives and to hear them speak of my parents made my heart feel so full …

  3. Ditto what Hilary ways, Susan. Loss and change — about your Australian friend who had lost her roles after the passing of her husband. In writing these A-Z travelogue posts with old photos, many from journeys my mother and I took together, before her journey through dementia, I traveled once again with her and that made me miss her and explore the changes I underwent during my caring for her in her illness once again as I did four years ago before she died.

    • I know that the anniversary of her death has just passed Samantha – I remember well your beautiful book about your caretaker’s journey with her in her years of dementia. It’s interesting how one looks back and sees the road travelled .. Thank you for coming by dear friend ..

  4. I so agree with the quote you shared “When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed” and your friend’s experience proves it too. This post made me reflect and ponder on. Thanks for a thought provoking post, Susan!

  5. Hi Susan – so many erudite thoughts here … I haven’t yet had that opportunity to reflect on all things … I do as I go along in life and often think of my family (extended) – and I know I’ll go deeper in time … the thought of the bush and lying out under the stars is such a treat – you’ll enjoy that …

    We can continue our journey til our paths cross and we join with so many who’ve gone before … cheers Hilary

    • Thank you dear Hilary – when is there ever time to reflect on all things – maybe in a monastery? Or looking up at the stars …

      That’s a thought – meeting up when we join with those who’ve gone before …

      Have a lovely weekend, and all my good wishes, Susan

  6. So coincidental you should write about this today, Susan. I was reading up on Zen yesterday, and came across a bit that spoke about defining ourselves in fluid, not solid, terms: allowing a relationship, any relationship, to define us (lover, mother, daughter, co-worker, friend, partner) is asking for trouble—because it stretches the *now* into the future, over which we have no control. Death is the ultimate loss, certainly, but there are many other ways to lose the things and the people (and, especially, the ideas) we’ve formed attachments to.

    Lovely post. As always 🙂

    • Thanks for coming by Guilie, much appreciated for your additional thoughts as well – so true, about defining ourselves in ways that are limiting and does not take into account the future over which we have no control. The Zen philosophy upholds no attachment to outcome which I think is extremely wise.
      Have a lovely weekend – we’re off to Botswana tomorrow!

  7. Along these lines, I’ve heard it said that a seed has to die and be buried to emerge through the ground as a plant. Death, I think, is not supposed to be an ending, but a changing. It is a change for the departed, as they are off to other planes and it is a change for us who remain as we adept to not having that unique soul in our midst.
    Revisit the Tender Years with me during the #AtoZChallenge at Life & Faith in Caneyhead!

    • Thank you for coming by Barbara, I remember you from last year’s A-Z. Death. Metamorphosis on all levels, I Like how you say we also have to adapt to no longer having the departed soul with us ..

  8. Powerful words, Susan. Loss forces us to reach deep inside in ways that nothing else does, and find a new set of feelings and emotions. We re-emerge scarred and perhaps wiser, stronger. Your friend in Australia is a great example. I hope she found peace.

    • Thanks Silvia for coming by. There’s something unique in each of us in our losses and reactions to them. Perhaps as you say we emerge wiser. Some sadly stay stuck unable to reach out or recover. Sadly I know of such a person close to me. My Australian friend is I think doing as well as she can. Thank you for thinking of her.

  9. I’ve personally experienced loss as a powerful motivator. It forces me out of my comfort zone, to consider options I wouldn’t otherwise. Always, there’s growth.

    • Thanks Jacqui. We are forced to consider options otherwise not entertained aren’t we. We look back to now and see the growth, unimaginable at the time.

  10. Susan, your post is excellent. Unfortunately, it ties me into what I am experiencing with my husband at this moment in time. We are losing a great deal, but for some weird reason, I think there will be something special we’ll gain at the same time. We’ll see!

    • Thank you Gwynn. Possibly you’re feeling a shift towards something stronger and more positive after all you’ve been through? A light at the end of the tunnel? Wonderful!

  11. Thank you, Susan. And thank you, Deborah, for recommending my book. I once spent an evening trying to understand a Buddhist concept and it finally came down to this. : Everything changes. It’s the nature of life. If life were fixed, there would be no interdependence or transformation. When it came down to it, I couldn’t even imagine an unchanging world and, from my ego perspective, that often means loss. Loss of friends, loss of home, loss of health, loss of lovers, loss of what seemed like the perfect possibility. Birth of babies, opening of flowers, new treatments for illnesses, and on and on. We lose what felt essential and find a new way.

    • I love that concept of impermanence Elaine. It is one of the only constants …and as you say in our ever changing world there is always something new, with potential. We let go of what no longer serves us. Thank you for coming by!

  12. Thank you, Susan. As always, you give your readers much to think about. I was particularly struck with your use of the word “scathed.” It added another piece to the puzzle of my own life. Years ago after having endured a long and painful dark night I had a dream featuring the word “scatheon.” After thinking about it I decided it was a combination of “scar” and “thenn” (theo being a prefix for words referring to the study of God) and thus meant a painful wound that had sacred meaning. How could I have missed the word “scathe,” which contains all but the last two letters of my new word “scatheon” and is the obvious root of it? This excites me and inspires me to write more about how painful experiences can, indeed, precipitate powerful change.

    I’d like to add my endorsement of Elaine’s book to yours and Deborah’s. She and I recently made a presentation at the Sarasota Jung Society on the healing meaning that can come from loss and grief. She is a living testament to the fact that, as you say, “an emergence from it [our terrible wounding] can happen if we are fortunate, bearing our wounds and scathing with fortitude, courage, forbearance -“

    • Jeanie well that is just flat out amazing, not only because I wasn’t terribly sure of the meaning of the word but it seemed right and now to hear of your response to the word. I did mean scarring and wounding and pain and bleeding.

      I sent my Australian friend a kindle copy of Elaine’s book last year and no doubt would have heard from her in this regard if she’d managed to get it up. I want to get it off to my US friend as well, when the rand dollar exchange rate is a little healthier. Elaine is indeed a living testament of healing through grief.

      Thank you Jeannie for your lovely comment and I look forward as I always do to your deep and profound posts. It is a necessity to see our wounding as some kind of initiation. I’m currently trying to fashion a T post on just this ..

  13. Such beautiful, inspiring and truth-seeking words Susan! Oh the daily rising of love and loss, for which one needs both hands. For only together can hands touch love, and only together can they hold loss. One minute our hands are full, the next quite they are empty. Yet love, love is stronger than death, stronger than all known desire. I can’t think who sang it but the lyrics … ‘Love changes everything’ are now on a loop in my musical mind.

    ‘Leaning into Love’ by Elaine Mansfield is a truly wonderful, and profoundly rich book which I highly recommend to all your readers. Thank you so much for sharing more of your wonderful thoughts and reflections with us. Blessings, Deborah.

    • Two hands, two feet – one (both) for reaching out and the other for standing our ground – I love how you say sometimes our hands are full other times quite empty. I’ve got the song running a loop in my head as well!

      I had to communicate with Elaine on messenger to check out how to make a link on my post and would have done the same re: you Deborah. All I could do was copy and paste her link once she gave it to me.

      Thank you always for your lovely and deeper thoughts. I’ll be sending you Botswana blessings in a few days time …

  14. I always enjoy your posts. I try to save them to read after I’m done with a frantic fly through visit through the A to Z posts, because I like to take some time and reflect on the wise words you’ve shared with us.
    Beautiful again today!

  15. Susan,

    Each loss is an opportunity. I remember when I lost a job, I wrote on my wall: Every closed door is an open book.
    And it has turned out that way for me.


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