This is the second in a series of four posts by our amazing, compassionate blog contributor Dr. Penny Lloyd. Dr. Penny recently lost her lifelong companion mare “Bangwyn”. By sharing experience and insight around life and death of loved ones, it is her intent to help all of us open to the unfathomable beauty and ultimate connection that is healing.
Celebration of Life? Surviving the day
Forget the “transforming pain to beauty” part!%*! How can you suffer such incredible pain and simply survive? When your heart is ripped out, and the pain is coming thro in waves so strong it takes your breath away – what do you do? Shouldn’t there be a friggin’ manual on that one?!?? Not sure I have the manual, but this helps me:
Don’t try to do it alone. Say a prayer. Ask for help. Allow the support of friends & family. It is natural to want to hide to lick your wounds, but there is nothing like sharing a meaningful experience openly. It releases tension. It opens your heart. An open heart is the only way to truly feel better – to heal – to enjoy.
When the pain comes, breathe. Try going outside. For me, nature offers relief.
Let yourself feel what you feel. If you let yourself feel, it comes in waves and passes through. It may come again, but it doesn’t get stuck.
Observe your thoughts. Watch how adding to certain streams of thought adds to your pain. Notice that you can choose to stop – and just be – a still oasis. Notice how easy it is to whip up guilt, regret, doubt…tons of extras to dump on top to add to your agony. Notice you can stop – even an avalanche – but it is easiest early on, just as a thought trickles in. Some thoughts will come that actually make you feel a little better. Even at a time like this, you can choose.
Be gentle, true and nice to you. Take the easiest, gentlest path. Chances are you won’t have the energy to control much. Conserve energy. No right way to act. Just show up, moment to moment. Let it unfold. Give yourself room to feel how you feel…whatever surfaces. You may be surprised. And you may want to take this “roomy compassion mother self hug” way of being with you into the future.
Deal with only one moment at a time. Forget past, future, and what ifs. Focus only on the step in front of you. Barebones stripped away, blank slate – just be there to notice. Show up and ride on through, step by step – the way animals live. No preplanning. Take action when necessary. Watch moment to moment. Be open and observe. You can experience more in one hour of presence, than a lifetime of busy. Animals love people who are present.
Let yourself let go. Surrender the last threads of control. Let go of tension by relaxing your grip. A situation like this primes us for surrender. To have no energy to fight, can be the greatest gift. It may be the first time you can receive.
Watch the impulse to “run or hide” to avoid pain. Both are resistance. The resistance is what hurts the most. If you turn and face the pain, let the pain be there, you will come to know the fullness of grief as love. Love is all there is.
Alcohol. When big stuff is going on, I avoid numbing out with alcohol. But I also know alcohol can work as a heart opener. This time, at the close of the day, I experimented consciously. I took a sip and tuned into how I felt. I was surprised when the heavy physical sensation of pain gradually lifted from my heart – and I had a lovely real heart to heart conversation with my sister, before going to sleep.