Any type of change has the potential to be uncomfortable and even difficult, but a change in a relationship often triggers a suffering that is universal. We’ve all had romantic relationships that end in heartbreak, friendships that dissipate, loved ones whose lives end while we remain living.
We remain living.
During and after a loss of a relationship, life keeps on moving and sometimes we struggle to keep up. The grief of no longer having the person’s company, knowing that plans that you’d made before the loss will no longer manifest, the reality that someone in whom you found solace in is no longer available to you, these are all factors that you are left to confront.
I woke up several weeks ago to a couple of missed calls from a friend and a text that urged me to call back. When I did call back, though, my friend could not finish a complete sentence before tears consumed her. I managed to make out that her long-term relationship was over; he had left. She was in the middle of the rawness of loss and because she was miles and miles away in another country, I could not hold her. But, I could still support her, love her, and remind her.
I could remind her that when people leave, whether by their own personal choice or because their journey in life is over, we remain living. And because we remain living, that fact requires us to not merely exist, but to really embody what it means to be alive.
The difficulty lies in accepting the change and realizing that it is not a reflection of our self-worth. The more we try to resist the loss and dwell on analyzing why the loss occurred when it did, the more we expose ourselves to pain.
When we start wondering if we could have done something differently, when we replay conversations in our head and question our past actions, we push ourselves deeper into that resistance.
Life is not gentle when it comes to change. It does not wait for us to slowly process and come around, instead it expects us to be resilient. It expects us to be resilient because we are resilient.
When someone leaves by his or her own will, it is essential to recognize that it doesn’t make us a less deserving person. It does not mean that we are not worthy of love, or that we are not enough.
When someone decides to follow a different path in his or her life, it is not a reflection of us and what we have to offer the universe.
When we learn to recognize and appreciate that all of us have our own journey that sometimes leads us down different roads, when we can respect someone else’s freedom without tying it to our attachment to the relationship, when we accept that when someone leaves it does not mean that we are victims, that is when healing begins.
The more we live, the more our relationships change. Sometimes our values or interests shift and we are no longer able to connect with friends whom we wouldn’t have predicted would become estranged from us.
This does not mean that the caring for one another ends. This does not mean that the sharing and growing that took place in the relationship has no value. It only means that things have changed.
People leave our lives and others make an entrance, but only when we continue to live.
My friend was struggling with the ‘why.’ Why did he leave? Why didn’t he want to be with me? Why didn’t he want to put in the effort to make it work? If we were to be given ten different answers to our whys, none would provide us with the peace that we seek at the time when someone has left our lives.
The healing doesn’t stem from trying to understand the leaving, it comes from accepting it. When someone leaves, voluntary or involuntarily, we need to accept it if only for the simple reason that we remain living.
When someone commits suicide or dies after a struggle with a terminal disease, we can become consumed with guilt and shame after that person’s absence.
When someone leaves us our thoughts want to comprehend the abandonment so that we can neatly place it in a box and push it under the bed. We create a maze of explanations that cause our thoughts to fuel our anxiety and sometimes even depression. If we transfer the energy that we spend on trying to understand to trying to accept what is, we find peace more easily.
Change is inevitable and a certain someone will always leave, just as we leave other parts of our lives. But, even after the fact, we remain living.
Grief over a loss is never easy, but do yourself a favor and start working on accepting the change so that you can remain living and not merely existing.