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Half Alive....

Feb 03 2020

Unexpected loss feels like a slam to the whole body inside and out. Loss is a wake up call to our mortality, to what we love, and to what we are here to experience. It can be the experience that let's you open more to life rather than shutting down. 

Shutting down is a natural response right after grief. It's literally the "correct" response from our bodies because it allows us to process what is already hard enough to handle - the truth of the loss. And yet we must not remain shut down, or closed off because then we live "half alive". Yet we can get stuck in shut down after loss and inadvertently life "half alive".

Living half alive creates a different kind of suffering than loss does, but suffering nonetheless. It's a kind of suffering that we might be able to manage more easily, because it feels easier after being hit by "the big loss".

Are you half alive? Stuck in shut down or partially shut down? How do you know if you're living half alive? 

Maybe you feel like you're settling
Maybe you feel only muted emotions
Maybe you have trouble really feeling love or joy
Maybe you're bored or disinterested in general
Maybe you're causing/living in chaos or drama to feel alive
Maybe you wonder - what's the point?

Maybe you feel disappointed again and again

There are as many maybes as there are people. What is your version of living half alive? How have you shut down in some way?

When we are afraid of loss, we subconsciously organize life to avoid the possibility of loss and then we simultaneously avoid the possibility of great joy and fulfillment. 

If you haven't yet learned the skills of grieving and moving through loss consciously and well, make this your year to do it. And don't try to do it alone! It's a recipe for continued avoidance. If you have recently experienced a loss, your work is to feel the feelings and find the proper support. Allow yourself the time you need to hurt and move through the pain at your pace. Building your emotional muscles is what is needed and that's how you'll do it. 

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom; taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

There are maybe five feral kittens in my garage. 

     I say “maybe” because there is no way to know where they are. The garage is full of stuff.  Under a shelf unit?  Tucked behind my boyfriend’s tools?  Hidden under a space below the sub floor?

     The mother took them there on day three of their lives. This was somewhat unusual, but understandable.

She had them right on our back deck and now that the weather is nicer, we’re in and out all the time. That probably worried her.

     Since these feline fur balls are nowhere to be found, we have no idea if they are alive or not.  In my opinion, the mother has been a little inattentive. But hey, who wouldn’t want a break after having five babies?  Still, we’re worried. We wonder “Are they dead or alive?”

     I told my boyfriend that we would just have to trust the mamma cat and Mother Nature to know what to do.  That this cycle of life was theirs to negotiate. After all, even baby birds fall out of the nest and die.

     So we know of these laws in the animal world. Yet, what is it with us humans that we sometimes doubt that life, and death, are unfolding as they should?  Why can’t we let go with gratitude and joy?

     I encourage you to spend some time quietly reflecting on what you have in your life now that needs to be let go.  Could it be an old belief or a relationship that no longer serves you?  Might it be that dress that fit perfectly six years ago but has gotten a little snug?  Let it go.

     Practice letting go now and then join me later on May 22 for International Letting Go day, a virtual event.  For now, just take a deep breath and know that, like the kittens and the birds, life is unfolding as it should… and that all is well.

Ann Leach is the owner of Life Preservers Grief Support. She lives in Joplin, Mo. and works with clients from around the country who are coping with their own life-altering events. http://lifepreserversgriefsupport.com/

 


 

I was lying on a mat at the gym. My trainer was stretching me into positions that I never knew were possible.  In an instant I was introduced to muscles I had never met in this middle aged body and THAT had me thinking of death.

 

It’s not the first time I thought I’d die.  Just 22 months ago I literally stared death in the face as a terrifying EF 5 tornado roared through my Joplin, Missouri neighborhood.  I lost my home. I lost my stuff. I lost my favorite landmarks. Fortunately, I still had my soul.

 

What little housing was spared by the tornado was scooped up by others seeking the same. Desperation prevailed. Hoards of people poured over housing listings and barraged realtors with requests for the next right spot. They took over every available hotel room, waiting for a more permanent home….just as I was. 

 

I was technically homeless. I also had a blank slate. That had me giving serious thought to what I wanted my next living space to look like.   After having spent 15 years in my now lost abode, I quickly realized I was moving into a new chapter of life.

 

And isn’t that like the literal death experience?  We spend so many years in this ‘house’ we call the physical body and then we move on to the next chapter as the soul is released.  But what will hold the memories?  What next vessel can contain the story of a life lived with passion, gratitude and love?

 

I discovered the work of Fine Art Urns and thought “how cool to have a piece of original art to house the memories of someone dear.” I just knew I had to work with Ron and Elizabeth to share these gifts with the world.  And so I’ll be offering my thoughts on remembering and honoring the memories of those departed.  I hope you’ll find them helpful.  

 

Ann Leach is the owner of Life Preservers Grief Support and continues to live in Joplin, Mo. She works with clients from around the country who are coping with their own life-altering events.

 

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