Mourning our Lost Selves
Whenever you make a change parts of you die. To make room for new growth the leaves of a tree have to fall to the ground and rot, turning into compost. It is the same for us, as we let go of old patterns, old relationships, and old thoughts. There is a mourning process that happens of which we are often unaware. Think: are you in this now?
What parts of you have you left behind? Maybe it’s an old habit, or friend, or a way that you used to think about yourself. That’s a loss. And it’s a loss that we often don’t recognize because we are told to focus on what is new. We are told to look into the future and to focus on everything that we can be. Not what we were.
So think back:
Who were you just a year ago?
How much have you changed?
And what parts of you needed to die?
I invite you to spend today thinking about all the growth and changes that you’ve undergone. Each metamorphosis of your psyche. And for a moment, instead of celebrating where you are now take the time to mourn where used to be. Take this moment to tap into your past self.
Grief gets a bad rap in our culture. We think that it’s a bad thing, something to be avoided, or handled. Some of us are even told feeling that grief makes us weak. But I offer a different frame. Mourning and grief inform us of what we hold dear, of what is important. The feeling of grief lets us know how far we’ve come and the sacrifices that we’ve had to make along the way. Life isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to test us and give us repeated opportunities to grow.
It’s amazing to me to consider how life gets more complex as we age. We are constantly taking on more responsibility, and from that we can reap greater rewards. Think about it, it doesn’t have to be that way. We could, as a species, be happy with maintaining the status quo. Just being comfortable. But we are not, there is a drive in each of us that once to be better and wants to excel. Life’s natural state is growth.
We don’t get to choose exactly how we grow. It’s like having a houseplant. You can’t tell it where to put its leaves, or where to grow roots, or what shade of green to be. You can’t control exactly what it will look like. But, you can make sure that it gets enough water, sunlight, and, perhaps most importantly you can help it to prune the parts that are no longer needed.
We are the same way.