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Armijo: Coping with loss

Our beautiful mountain community is built upon its strength and resolve. We are a close, tight-knit, and caring group of people who greet each other at the supermarket and in the gym. We are more than just faces in the crowd. We take up the reigns to assist others in the community when they are in need.

As a smaller community, we often feel more of an impact when one of our own passes on from this life. Those who have left us were our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and our best friends. They were pillars in the community, parents of our children’s friends, and the smiling faces that worked in our favorite shops.

As Americans, we tend to fear our mortality and see it as a reminder of what is to come when someone passes. Other cultures take different approaches to death by holding a celebration instead of a somber funeral. They are diligent in taking time out to remember those they have lost. In contrast, we tend to hold a solemn remembrance and try to move on with our lives the best we can.

Let me be clear, there is not a right or wrong way to mourn the loss of our loved ones. This is a deeply personal experience for each and every one of us and we will all handle it differently. Some people may close down at the loss of a loved one, while others seek refuge amongst people. Some may be inspired to live their lives to the fullest and others may just want to get back to their normal routine. There are a small few who take the detrimental route of self-medicating through alcohol, drugs, or sex to numb their pain.

Below are a few beneficial actions that can help us when experiencing the loss of a loved one. These activities can help all of us in our suffering by allowing a healthy release which will allow us to grieve while moving forward in a positive manner. Keep in mind these are not a one-size-fits-all remedy and some people may find some more helpful than others.

The first thing we can do in our time of mourning is to allow ourselves to feel. Often we are overcome with emotion, yet our culture still frowns upon us fully expressing ourselves. Therefore we tend to hold back how we are really feeling at any given time. When we can fully embrace our emotions, we can fully release the internal stress that has been created within us. We should allow ourselves to cry, allow ourselves to laugh, and allow ourselves to yell at the top of our lungs if we feel the need to … just don’t hold back.

The second thing we can do is to reach out to others who can comfort us. There is this notion in our culture that asking for help is a sign of weakness; luckily this has been changing but is still prevalent in many circles. Most of us still have a tendency to close ourselves off and go into the corners of our mind, which is not the most beneficial place to be when experiencing this type of stress.

It is helpful to interact with others and realize we are not alone in what we are experiencing. Find a friend or family member to confide in, someone who will listen without the need to interrupt or pass judgment. If this is not available, seek out a support group or a religious or spiritual center that can be of assistance. It is important to release stress by talking when possible.

The third thing we can do is celebrate the loss of your loved ones by remembering all the good times. Loss does not have to be somber. We can laugh at all the funny things that happened with those we have lost. We can bring a smile to our face by recalling all their kind words or gestures. Most importantly, we can relive the feelings they allowed us to feel when they were still with us. This is both comforting and necessary to keep a piece of them with us.

The last thing we can do is to embrace our own mortality. Understand the one thing that is guaranteed to all of us is that we will one day leave this earth. This should not be seen as something negative but instead as positive motivation. The fact that our time is limited should motivate us to live our best lives each and every day.

It should cause us to take inventory of our lives and stop doing the things we don’t care for and begin following our passions. If we are stuck in a job we dislike, then change it or create your own. If we have always wanted to go back to school, then go. If we have always wanted to travel, then start planning your next trip. Whenever I state this, the excuses start flowing. “But I need to make money. What will others think?” and so on. Time and time again it has been proven, where there is a will there is a way.

Our life on this planet is short, and the last thing our lost loved ones would want for us is to leave it while holding onto regret. Ask yourself, are you following your passion? Ask yourself, if you knew you only had a short time to live what would you be doing today? Then ask yourself what changes need to be made to live the life you desire. Do not wait — tomorrow is not guaranteed.

There is some comforting news that has come from quantum physics in regard to mortality. Quantum physics has proven we are all energy-based beings and the law of thermodynamics, also known as the Law of Conservation of Energy, states energy cannot be created or destroyed — only transferred or changed from one form to another. This means our flame may not be completely extinguished when we pass on.

Similarly, theologians have stated that God cannot be created or destroyed … only transferred. This means that science and religion are in agreement — there is something more to us than the flashy suits we wear. We may not know exactly what happens when we move from this planet, but it is a safe bet that we will experience something beyond what we currently know.

In summary, do not fear mortality. Our lost loved ones should be celebrated, and we are welcome to do this in our own way. Embrace the fact that our lives are short and we should be living them to the fullest each and every day. Take inventory of your life today and remove the things from it you do not enjoy and replace them with the things you do enjoy. Change is a process and it is available to all of us who have the will to make a change. In the end, our lives may not be as final as some think them to be.


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