Wisdom Workout

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The Dynamics of Loss

By Susan McNeal Velasquez
By Susan McNeal Velasquez

Many of us who live here are currently mourning the loss of Stu Saffer who was the original creator of the Laguna Beach Independent and who went on to create the successful on-line newspaper, Stu News Laguna.

We are so fortunate here in Laguna Beach to have access to local newspapers. These local news efforts provide the valuable service of keeping us informed and connected to the opportunities and events that take place in our city.

My writing career was given a strong helping hand as a result of knowing and working with Stu and I know many of us here in Laguna have been enhanced as a result of being touched by his gifts and contributions. As a result, loss has been on the front-burner this week.

Life’s many doors open and provide new opportunities. Those same doors eventually also close and we come face to face with our own mortality. Our losses include not only our separations and departures from those we love, but our losses of romantic dreams, impossible expectations, illusions of freedom and power, illusions of safety and the loss of our own younger self,

When loss comes visiting, it can arrive with so much force we are knocked to the ground and our life, as we have known it, evaporates.

Our familiar reality can no longer be found. It has wandered off, abandoning us to feelings of bewilderment, confusion, puzzlement and a certain kind of mental distraction. We become preoccupied, absent-minded and suspended in a dreamy, cotton-filled surreal existence that exists out of place and out of time.

I believe this is a good thing. It is our built-in surge protector that monitors the amount of experiential voltage our system can integrate.

Sometimes we go on tilt with seemingly small life changes and sometimes we are able to stand in front of the big cannons and come through miraculously unscathed. Our mental and emotional stamina has less to do with outside events than the state of the union and communion between our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies.

Grief is an emotion that defies control. Sorrow, sadness, anguish and heartache sing their song with their own unique timing that is so often not convenient for our hectic, no-nonsense, over-scheduled lives.

High-minded concepts motivate our mental bodies. Good nutrition, exercise and pampering feed and support our physical bodies. Faith, hope and belief in a power bigger than ourselves brings a sense of peace and inner calmness to our spiritual bodies.

What is the self-healing mechanism for our emotional bodies? Tears. Laughter. Sleep. Openness and receptivity to the sensual world that comes to us through the kiss of warm sunlight on our skin. The soft caress of a gentle ocean breeze. Breathing deeply in and out. Quiet. Becoming still in our bodies and minds.

Letting down. Letting go. Stopping the endless mind chatter that wants answers to unanswerable questions. Soothing music. Massage. Acknowledgement and acceptance of anything in our surroundings that is touching, heart stirring, heart opening, tender, beautiful and therefore renewing.

Emotions are messy. They are misunderstood because they don’t travel in a straight line. Like water, our feelings trickle down through cracks and crevices, seeking out the little pockets of pain and sorrow that need attention and have been neglected and kept under lock and key, hidden from public view.

Grieving is a legitimate response to loss. When we make a commitment to own, embrace and honor our orphaned emotions, we begin to assimilate our pain and suffering and through attention they transform into our unique wisdom base gained and earned by personal experience.

It takes courage to let down, let go and give voice to sadness and anger. Though we fear that we might drown and be forever consumed by tumultuous torrents of runaway feelings, it simply isn’t so. When we don’t know how to weep with our whole heart, we never learn how to fully laugh either. Endurance of loss is only the beginning. There must also be acceptance of what is, in order to continue on.

Thank you, Stu, for all the ways that you have contributed to our beloved city. You will be greatly missed.

Susan is a local author and personal development facilitator. susanvelasquez.com


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  1. What a beautifully written piece! It’s exactly what I needed to read at the place I find myself in my life and on my own path of grief. Thank you for your inspiring and wise words!


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