09/28/2015 02:49 pm ET Updated Sep 28, 2016

Loss Without Suffering

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It is certain that each of us will experience loss. It may come in one of many forms - loss of another, loss of mental or physical capacities, loss of material possessions, or the loss of a possibility, Significant loss often heralds a time of deep sadness, emotional pain, and perhaps even a sense of hopelessness or despair. It can be an inconsolable time.

As difficult as loss may seem, we make it even more difficulty by fighting the inevitable. We cannot easily accept loss. We don't like it and we don't want it. We wish it be otherwise. We seek to order life in a manner those accords with our desires and preferences. But that is not how life works.

Impermanence, and thus loss, is built into all life -- everything that is born will die, all relationships will end in separation, everything that is accumulated will in time be lost, and name and fame will be gone as well. Then, the cycle of human life reverses itself, continuing as the perpetual ebb of creation and destruction, year-to-year, moment to moment, gain alternating with loss.

If we can understand and fully accept life, as it actually is, impermanent and ever changing, we will still experience loss. However, we will not be adding an extra layer of pain and suffering by resisting it. We will not be fighting loss. We will not be struggling with it. We will not oppose the natural movement of life. We will neither push it away, nor suppress it.

What's required is an acknowledgement and surrender to the reality of the here and now, even if that is the painful reality of loss. We must surrender the illusion that we can control life and avoid or minimize loss and distress. We must surrender the willful belief that life should proceed according to our desires and wants. And, we must surrender the seductive illusion that life and its circumstances are unchanging. Letting go of our resistance is not a punishment. It's a wise act of courage that allows an easier passage through loss and openness to possibilities as yet unknown.

That growth in understanding can allow us to experience loss without anxiety, fear, or misconceptions. Loss is difficult. But, if accepted as life's momentary movement, we can live through loss with far less suffering. We flow with adversity and challenge rather than attempt to stop what cannot be stopped. We relax and ease into loss, experience it in our heart, let go of our desires and wants, and stop trying to alter what is unalterable.

And if are truly fortunate, something further may happen. In the sadness and pain the heart's vulnerability and tenderness can be felt. If we rest into that vulnerability without judgment or reaction, we may find a place of peace and sustenance. Yes, in the center of the full experience it is possible to find a spaciousness and serenity.

And, in the tenderness of a broken heart is also found a sympathetic understanding of the suffering of others. Out of this experience of our pain arises the beginning of universal compassion. That concern for others, moves us away from self-rumination, isolation, and disconnection. It moves us towards a healing connection to others.

As we walk through the door of loss with wisdom, grace, surrender, and anticipation, there is something very important waiting to greet us. As the fire of our pain progressively burns away our little self and its illusion of control, we begin to free our self of fears, anxieties, and ceaseless mental commentaries.

When we accept life as it is and allow loss to flow through us without struggle or resistance, we become re-connected to the natural rhythms of life. Loss well lived becomes the basis for a sustaining serenity and freedom.