Loss defies us to remain complacent. It challenges us to see whether we are still the person we believed we were before this moment. Loss brings us to the very edge of our world.
How many times have we heard someone say after a loss, “I feel like I’m dreaming. I feel as I am going to wake up and none of this will have happened”? We hear this when any kind of deep loss has been encountered, whether it be the death of a beloved, a relationship, a job, or a dream. Many of us are feeling this with the tsunami catastrophe of death and destruction on the other side of the world. It is one of the ways we have of protecting ourselves from being overwhelmed by the intensity of the loss.
When reality begins to shift, we slow down and start asking questions. Stop, look, listen:
Ordinary reality is how our lives were without this destruction. Nonordinary reality blurs the boundaries between past, present, and future. In nonordinary reality how we see, think, and feel is unfamiliar. What we believed would not or could not happen has happened.
We need to look for signs that will give us the information we need to continue on our path. “Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find.”
In the dream state you might become vividly aware of light, colors, smells, and shapes. You are experiencing an unknown realm, the realm in which an important part of your ordinary lives is changing form. And in literal sleep we encounter what tribal cultures call the Dream Time, which is a space of deep inner healing. To the dreamer the dream is absolutely real. Dreams reconnect you with what or who you are missing.
What are you hearing? More questions than answers, likely. The poet Maria Rilke exhorted us: “Live the questions now!” What are the central questions of loss? A Buddhist teacher lies dying. His students are gathered around him weeping and wondering what they will do after he is gone. Laughing, the Roshi asks: “Where am I going?”
Adapted from Healing Through the Shadow of Loss, by Deborah Morris Coryell (Healing Arts Press, 2004). Copyright 2004 by Deborah Morris Coryell. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
Adapted from Healing Through the Shadow of Loss, by Deborah Morris Coryell (Inner Traditions, 2004).