03/11/2013 03:01 pm ET Updated May 11, 2013

Living With Loss

It's now going on five and a half years since I lost my father. I think of him every day, but it's not always painful anymore. However, it was painful again this past week. I had to put the last of the family cats to sleep and it opened my wound big time. I found myself yearning for just one more conversation, one more moment... and I was flooded with many memories.

Although I'm talking about the loss of my father, the theme here is the loss we experience of someone who really mattered, on the deepest of levels.

Of course, being who I am, I spent my week contemplating -- trying to make sense of this, and to find the lesson in it all. And although accepting loss isn't something we ever really want to do, I came up with some ideas that can really help:

  1. If you've loved someone, and you lose them, there is no way for it not to hurt. Loss hurts, and it's okay. Feeling pain is a part of life that we need to find a way to accept. Trying to bypass the feeling will only clutter up other parts of your life. The pain will find a way in no matter what, so it's best to deal with it head-on.
  2. There is no expiration date for loss. You do have to move forward. And it will get better. But it doesn't mean you'll ever stop missing the person, and not have moments in time when it just hurts, yet again.
  3. Loss is something to be revered, not feared. Much of what ails us in life is the fear of loss -- and not just death (although this is the ultimate end). The fear of loss is what hurts relationships. People are so afraid of being themselves and of being vulnerable because of this fear; this is what ruins so many connections.
  4. If you can pay attention, and let yourself hurt, it will open you up to living life more meaningfully. By knowing we don't have forever here or with someone, we can learn to appreciate the people in our lives more, to love more, and to be more open with what people mean to us.

What I've learned is that even though I miss my father every day, most of the time, I gain strength from the very close connection I had with him. And the times when it hurts -- well, I will just hurt. But I am comforted knowing that he knew how special and important he was to me. And I attempt to live this way every day. There isn't anyone in my life who doesn't know how I feel about them, and I show it and say it at every opportunity I get -- yes, even if it's not reciprocated. I leave myself open and vulnerable and let the chips fall. There's no other way to have real connections in the world. Even if it hurts to lose someone, it's worth it.

For more by Dr. Debbie Magids, click here.

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