One of the things we all dislike about psychologists is terms like "vulnerable to loss." Who, pray tell me, is not "vulnerable to loss"?

It is devastating to lose someone who made your world a better place. Or some thing that did, like a career, a special house, your left leg, the ability to have an erection, or your short-term memory.

Vulnerability in this case refers to something built up. Losing something important to us can weaken us for further ones. It takes tremendous resilience to weather some of the storms of life.

This weekend I am saying goodbye to something I treasured. It is time to say goodbye.

The hardest part is to give up hope; to say “There is nothing more I can do.”

I am reminded to remember this place. It’s so not-useful to hear “get over it,” or “we don’t love men who don’t love us,” or “it wasn’t meant to be,” or “all good things come to and end.”

Yes, yes, yes! we protest. I know that, but it doesn’t apply to ME.

It’s emotional turmoil, and it’s a mental struggle. Death is final; Pluto was the only god to whom there was no altar. Prayers, begging, wishing, whining don’t work. When it’s parting on the mortal plane, one is left to try and comprehend the incomprehensible.

And what is that about? One reason dogs do so well with, say, a severed limb, is that they can’t think about it. That brain is missing in all but humans. They don’t lie awake at night asking themselves “Why did this happen to me?” and “How am I supposed to live without this?” (There’s a video out now about a dog that gets around, believe it or not, on two hind legs.) They “make do,” as my grandmother used to say, and “making do” is easier if you aren’t comparing yourself and your condition to that of others, or to what you thought yours would be, or should be, or even to what it was previously. You take the moment and you cope.

Most of our emotions are attached to thoughts. One of the reasons we humans turn to anesthetizers like drugs and alcohol is because they stop the thoughts and numb the pain. However they bring more trouble into your life in the long run. You exchange current pain for future pain.

But that’s not to say that mammals don’t suffer from loss or separation from loved ones. I remember watching on the Discovery channel the documentary of an adolescent male monkey who, when his mother died, crawled up to the top of a tree and literally pined away, refusing food and consolation, both of which were offered by caring adult monkeys, refusing, ultimately, to continue living without her.

Music is good for this sort of grieving because it circumvents the left brain, that tyrant that wants to “understand” and uses words. There is no understanding why she left, in the last analysis, or why he was run over by a car, or why the deal didn’t go through, or why the house burned down, and even understanding (she was 89 and had cancer) doesn’t help. You can torment yourself with “I should have known,” and “why didn’t he tell me .. wait, did he tell me and I missed it” and “was it some word spoken in anger or in jest”. I have seen people torment themselves for years over the “why” and come out at the same point. Sadly, it is “just because.”

Losing a loved one has a physiological component for us as well that can’t be gotten around. We suffer when we lose someone we’ve become “attached” to and our bodies go into revolt. We can’t sleep or eat, or we sleep and eat all day. We have a knot in the pit of our stomach and a lump in our throat. The vagus nerve that runs from the brain to the intestines, the origination of the term “gut feeling,” is why, when we suffer in our minds, we get digestive problems. Our emotions are in every cell of our body.

After the resignation, the giving up of hope, must come the grieving. It is hard work, it takes time, and it has its own pace.

And if you’ve said goodbye before, the good news and the bad news is that you know what goes with it. Bad news because “here it comes.” Good news because you know it gets smaller, less intrusive, with time. “Soon she will just be someone I used to love,” says my suffering client Jim, whose wife left him.

You can harden your heart, of course, if you fail to deal with the grief, trading, again, present relief for long-term agony.

How do you say goodbye? “Con Te Partiro”, in Italian. Here is a video of “It’s Time to say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman: .

There's a story behind this heart-rending song. That boxer you see in the background is Henry Maske, who was retiring as light-heavyweight boxing champion of Germany. He was a national hero of rare stature. Not only was he a winner, he was a man of character who had won the hearts of the people.

When he had a match, he always chose a song for his entrance, so he was looking for one for his Farewell Match. Sarah Brightman, Maske’s friend, knew of his retirement. One day while dining out, she heard Bocelli's song Con Te Partiro playing on the Muzak, and knew it was the song.

She recorded it with Bocellli, it was played at Maske's farewell match, and the rest is history.

(For those of you who are curious, Maske lost on points to the US contender.)

Finally, resilience, an EQ competency, means being able to bounce back after losses, failures, rejections and adversity without losing hope. We can give up hope for that person or thing, but retain hope that we got along “before,” so we will get along “after,” and that there are other ways to make this dream come true.

And, of course, we were blessed to have ever had this that we are missing so much now that it’s gone.

Is that comforting? Yes and no. There again, it’s words. I recommend music, massages, and that great old healer time.

“Living,” they say, “is sometimes like licking honey off a thorn.”

Don’t forget the honey.

Now, since words don’t quite do the job, take a look at this wonderful video, in French, called “Boundin’”: . You don’t need to know the words, just get back up, each time you get shorn, and start dancing again.

Why? Just because.

Author's Bio: 

©Susan Dunn, MA, Life & EQ Coach,
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