10 Lessons from Loss – a Personal Reflection

Throughout life, we will all experience the pain of loss. Loss can be of someone or something that is of significance to us and can include death of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce, the ending of a pregnancy and more. Loss invokes a natural human response called grief, which affects us in varying degrees, depending on the situation and person.

For me, I lost my first husband suddenly to a heart attack then my younger sister to cancer in five years. This was an extremely challenging time for me, where I experienced immense grief. However, it was also where I experienced tremendous personal growth and where I learned what was important in life.

This is not something we usually talk about in a professional setting, yet you may be surprised at how many of your colleagues have been or are dealing with loss of some sort. Social support is critical during the grieving process and I am very grateful for the love and support I received from my family, friends, and workplace throughout this period.

In the spirit of opening the conversation and supporting others who are going through something similar, or who know someone dealing with grief, here are some of the things I learned along the way:

  1. Life as you know it can and does end/change in a moment. Don’t wait or put off anything important to you. If you love to travel (as I do), don’t wait until retirement as it may never come. Travel while your body and mind are still able.
  2. Life is to be enjoyed – laugh, be silly and focus on the good people and good things in your life.
  3. You cannot take money or possessions with you. Don’t sacrifice your health, experiences or time with loved ones in pursuit of money or material things.
  4. Our culture generally doesn’t like to talk about death, but the reality is we are all going to die. If you think about this, it will help you live your best life today and not sweat the small stuff so much.
  5. If someone is grieving the loss of a loved one, while you may be unsure what to say or worried that you will upset them, don’t avoid them. A simple acknowledgment of their loss with words, a text or card can go a long way to comfort them and show support.
  6. Grieving is a very personal journey which has no set timeframe and one that cannot be avoided. While hard, learn to get comfortable with grief, as it is a symbol of having had someone or something wonderful in your life.
  7. We spend a third of our lives working, sleeping and with our loved ones. Invest in a good bed and nice sheets that is aligned to your budget, do something you enjoy and that fulfills you for work and invest in good relationships. And be okay letting things or people go that don’t bring you joy.
  8. Every human being needs connection to thrive. You never know what someone is going through, so be kind. A simple smile or hello can change a person’s day.
  9. Listen to your gut and your intuition. Only you know what is best for you.
  10. This is not my original saying, but something I live by – Everyone else is taken, be your beautiful self and you will thrive.