~ On "Letting Go" ~
To let you go
knowing I must set you
This is the hardest task
I have ever done.
Kirsti A Dyer,
For most of the 20th century, the modern view
of bereavement has involved "letting go" of one’s attachment to the lost
loved one, "getting over it" and "moving on" with one’s life. The grieving
person gradually "recovers" from the loss of a loved one, resulting in
a return to "normal" behavior. These traditional
views on grief and mourning have changed. Notably different are the long-held
ideas that people need to "get over it" and "let go;" grief is eventually
"resolved" by "detaching" and "moving on" to new relationships. While the
current thinking about the concept of "letting go" has changed, it seems
that this change pertains more to "letting go" of a loved one following
a death rather than letting go of other types of losses.
Many of the life-changing setbacks that I have
encountered over the years—professional and personal—have forced me to
re-evaluate and reassess my life priorities, to "let go" of certain hopes,
dreams and goals, and to learn how to see the opportunity in apparent adversity.
When one door closes,
another one opens.
But if we keep trying
to go back
through the old door,
We may never notice the
which is often much better
than the old one.
Kirsti A. Dyer,
One of my hardest life lessons has been realizing
that holding on to a person, a goal or a dream can be destructive. Many
times trying to "go back through the old door" is not what is needed to
keep growing and thriving. These setbacks also require learning to recognize
when it is time and a necessity to integrate the change or loss and "let
go." Perhaps the most difficult part of "letting go" is finding the internal
strength to recognize it is time and then letting the person, or thing
go, and let the dream die. I have had to reframe many of my past relationships
or friendships as "deaths"(of the friendship or relationship and the person
you thought you knew) in order to reach an acceptance point, move on and
Let me learn to Love
to Give without expecting
to receive in return.
Types of " Letting Go" Losses
The concept of "letting go" is probably best
applied to situations that require picking oneself up, restoring self-esteem
and self-confidence following a loss, a setback or a significant life change.
The types of losses or crises best suited to
this concept include dissolution of relationship, change in occcupation,
financial setbacks, diagnoses with long-standing medical conditions etc.
The potential ability for "letting go" is highly dependent on the type
and severity of the loss experienced.
"Letting go" can take on many forms:
These losses are diverse and varied, but the common
element is these events require that one accept and integrate the loss
and recognize that their life is forever changed.
Letting go of a long-term relationship - romantic,
friendship or professional.
Letting go of a child, through relocation, divorce,
going off to college.
Letting go of a treasured possession, property or
Letting go of hopes, dreams and goals.
Letting go of alcohol, drug use or other long-standing
Letting go of loneliness, anger or depression.
Letting go of the past - negative memories, resentments.
Learning to Live with the Loss
We do not get
But over time, we do
learn to live with the loss.
We learn to live a different
life...with our loss.
Kenneth J. Doka
Grieving people must recognize that they may
never "get over" their grief. They may never get over certain major losses—diagnosis
of a terminal illness or the ultimate loss of a child, spouse or loved
one to death. When a person dies he/she will never return, there is no
negotiating to get them back. This loss is forever. The sorrow will
endure as long as the grieving person is alive. Fortunately so too will
the memories of good times and love shared with the person lost.
On the wings of time
Grief flies away.
We would all like to believe that "Time heals
all wounds" and that with time "Grief flies away." It is important
that people understand that grief is not like a cold or an illness that
one "gets over." Instead grief should be viewed as something that gets
better over time, that one learns to live with, but may never truly goes
away. With time the loss, the intense initial painful emotions lessen to
a level that allows the grieving person to function. The grief is no longer
a daily all-consuming emotion. Rather than the grief "flying away" the
grieving person learns how to cope with the loss and the grief, integrate
the loss into his/her life, adapt to a life forever changed and keep living.
Resources on Letting Go
Poems of Letting Go
Stories on Letting Go
Quotes on Letting Go
Poems & Thoughts On the Final Letting Go—Death
Resources On the Final Letting Go—Death
Doka KJ. Getting Over It. Hospice
Foundation of America. Journeys Newsletter. February 2002.
At every point
in the human journey
we find that we have
to let go in order to move forward;
and letting go means
dying a little.
In the process we are
being created anew,
awakened afresh to the
source of our being.
See the Emergency
911 Page for links to immediate resources
if you are feeling helpless,
hopeless, overwhelmingly depressed, or suicidal.
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