Every Loss Has To Be A Gain

When a beloved furry pet dies, it can feel very sad.

Several people have written me lately about their animal friends dying, and feeling grief, depression, regret.

I haven’t had a pet as an adult…but I understand the welling up of tears and all the thoughts that start to churn that may turn out to feel stressful.

  • I miss him
  • I should have done more with her
  • If only I had known that was his last day
  • her life was too short
  • I could have done better

Funny how when something is “lost” and the life of that animal, or person even, is over….we sometimes want to reach back and grab for more.

More time, more cuddles, more conversations, more intimacy.

A dear inquirer who recently lost a little cat noticed thoughts of guilt entering her mind….

….if I had known she was going to die, I would have let her eat more food and enjoy more pleasures, not been so strict.

Let’s take a look at this difficult thought that can appear with loss of someone you love, whether a pet or a person.

I could have done better. 

Is that true?

Are you sure?

Because you only knew what you knew, in that previous moment. You know a little more now, here in this moment. What if you weren’t supposed to know it back then?

The mind may argue….“but I DID kind of know. I should have paid attention, I should have followed my intuition, I knew I could do better, I could have been more clear, honest, aware, trusting, astute, kind…”

Are you really sure you could have done better? Are you 100% positive that you should have known what you didn’t know, or decided what you didn’t decide?

Many years ago, I became pregnant, and after terrible agonizing, had an abortion.

When asked later in life what I believed to be the absolute worst thing I had ever done, the thing I felt most guilt about…..it was that.

I had never known prior to that experience what post-traumatic stress syndrome might be like. I was beside myself with grief and regret. I was sick for days. It stayed with me for a decade. I was shocked by my own dreadful thoughts towards myself. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for years.

One of the first Byron Katie events I ever went to, a woman stood up and said it out loud. She regretted having an abortion.

I still felt so much shame, I couldn’t believe this woman told the same story, publicly, holding a microphone!

But as Katie asked her to question her beliefs, to do The Work, something shifted inside about this thing called “regret”.

In the dictionary, regret is defined as the sorrow about the loss of opportunity.

Ah, there’s the rub.

The image of the future or past (which is actually false and does not exist) where opportunity lives, or used to live.

Now, not only is this life lost, but this imagined and vivid alternate opportunity. The one where the person or animal I care about is alive, or happy.

Over and over again, in the distant past, I imagined the birthdate, the gender, the life of this child that never was.

Deep torture.

Who would I be without that thought, that I could have done better?

“You can’t let go of a stressful thought, because you didn’t create it in the first place. A thought just appears. You’re not doing it. You can’t let go of what you have no control over. Once you’ve questioned the thought, you don’t let go of it, IT lets go of YOU. It no longer means what you thought it meant.” ~ Byron Katie

Imagine who you would be without the belief that you could have done better. Because it’s possible that what you’re thinking NOW is imagination, too.

Without that thought?

Freedom, acceptance for this self that is beyond knowing. Peace far, far past all the stuff I think.

A great feeling of everything being exceptionally well and very strange and mysterious.

I turn the thought around: I could not have done any better. I did the best I possibly could.  

How could that be truer?

I can find how that experience drew me into such suffering that the equal and opposite breaking-free became possible. I contemplated short lives, and noticed that every length of life you could ever imagine happens here on planet earth….from a few hours to over 100 years.

I don’t have three children to take care of, I can focus on two.

“Clinging creates the bricks and mortar with which we build a conceptual self.” ~ Michael Singer 

I gave that entity a gift of very little agonizing and suffering, and a return to a place without bodies…somewhere I’ll be again one day.

My life has been filled with so much, this life has not been empty because another life “left” it.

“Every loss has to be a gain, unless the loss is being judged by a confused mind….The simple truth of it is that what happens is the best thing that can happen.” ~ Byron Katie 

What is the gain, in your life?

Much love, Grace

4 Responses to Every Loss Has To Be A Gain

  1. Thanks so much for writing Heather. I don’t know if this will answer your question (or partially answer it) but when I look at a calendar or a photo of something or someone from the past, yes, there is an image on the paper or computer (just like inside my head) of that time and place before. In this present moment, when I am looking at it, something is brought here now, to the present. Calendars also offer this fascinating energy directed to the past, or to the future. So very helpful for planning, or preparing if you’re getting ready for something that’s in the future! But I do love giving much less import to that past and future, like it means much less, when questioning my thoughts. Here in this moment is this beautiful image of that dog I once had alive in my life. And now, in this moment, I can remember him and smile and feel my heart glow. Instead of feel unhappy and upset about the loss. I love your question. Imagery is so powerful! Pictures and cameras, films even. They can inspire many responses. But I do see how a photo is on paper. Look at the back of the paper, and it’s just a white piece of paper, no image. Even if a movie is playing, if you went to the side of the theater and looked at the screen, you see only a line. Not sure if that addresses what you are considering, but I love that you wrote :)–Much love, Grace

  2. I am curious about photographs and calendar dates, my ego throws that out when I respond that the animals/people aren’t dead. Katie says where’s the proof? But I have not heard a reply to my ego thoughts of the imagery and time/ place accounting for in cameras and calendars. “The image of the future or past (which is actually false and does not exist) where opportunity lives, or used to live.

    Now, not only is this life lost, but this imagined and vivid alternate opportunity. The one where the person or animal I care about is alive, or happy.”
    Thank you so much for work.

    Heather

  3. I had an abortion in my 20’s. I said No to that experience of having the baby. When I contemplate my No, I can’t say where it came from–really. How to unravel that No into the right or wrong thing to do? I can’t do it. As much as I would like to tie the story up with right or wrong–can’t do it without tearing life up into bits and pieces.

    I should have said Yes. With the thought, pain. Without the thought, the whole world, with no one left out.

    I shouldn’t have said Yes. Well, I didn’t. In a way, that’s all I can come to, is I didn’t. It’s like with this turnaround, the world shows itself, as it is.

    Life should have said Yes; and it did. Life went on. I even have children with the same man.

    Where’s the gain? I ran a business instead of raising the child. I can’t say I would have had more children–the ones I have now might not have been born. My family has a lot of mental illness in it, and I had been hospitalized for it–the stress of raising a child I didn’t want might have spiraled into bigger problems than I did have. (I haven’t considered that before!)

    Thanks.

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