Gaining from loss: How to be the silver lining in someone else’s dark cloud

After I lost my mother to cancer in November 2015, I witnessed a sudden expansion of my world. People who were once strangers and acquaintances turned into connections. Our meetings were brought about and revolved around a common center—the loss of a loved one—specifically a parent.

When we came into union, it seemed as if a veil that existed between us was suddenly removed and the people with their vulnerable hearts and souls stood in front of me—transparent and in shriveling pain. Some were young, others old, some had recently lost a loved one while for others decades had gone by marking the tragedy. Age and time didn’t matter in the context of loss.

During one such communion, a few of my mother’s friends came to console me. They had lived the experience of losing their own mothers years ago and now they had lost a dear friend unexpectedly. During our conversation, what struck me was that their words of compassion and solace were marked by clichés. A number of cultural phrases I had always heard during funerals, viewings and proceeding mourning periods. These opinionated phrases had been repeatedly presented to the relatives of the deceased in an attempt to bring the grievers face to face with reality.

Finding a way to forgive yourself

Reality? I paused to reflect upon the subject of reality once again. What is reality? Whose reality were they presenting? Did they even know what reality meant? Being internally conflicted about these deeply ingrained habitual expressions, I had always pondered upon this practice of the society in the past without reaching home. Today, it was my time to receive them. As my aunties continued the conversation, I silently listened.

It’s surely a huge loss.

Nothing can replace the loss of a mother. The loss can never be replaced. And the worst of them all, you have to live with your loss forever. Without doubt, they were trying to fulfill my emotional needs but did they even know what my needs were? They bandaged my loss with utmost genuineness and purity but did they ask me if I was in loss?

As I silenced myself to be present, I listened beyond their words. The corner of their eyes filled with tears ready to drop any moment. I could read their minds, feel their hearts and reach their souls. As I put myself into their shoes, it became intensely painful to stand in their long-term suffering resulting from previous loss(es).

They believed they were consoling me but in fact, they were consoling themselves and while they sympathized with me, I empathized with them. I had been blessed beyond measure to turn my loss into gain and so, the loss didn’t exist within my reality. The Divine had healed my heart. However, even after decades they still stood encaged within traumatizing tribulations of the past. I was free and wanted to set them free and so within our limited time, and so all I asked of God was how could I help them heal?

Grief: Coping with the death of a loved one

My prayer was answered with the following inspiration. I requested them to extend their palms and placed the coin of life in each of their hands. The coin had an engraving of the word “Loss” on it. I asked them to look at it and assess if the current situation of their hearts matched with the currency they had in their hands. They affirmed that loss was the reality of their lives. All of us sitting here were not just revisiting and sharing our losses but living the pain and suffering attached to it. When we lose a loved one or anything precious to us, we are in the state of loss but when we focus on the fact that the person will never come back, we remain in our misfortune of lack and loss until its pain turns into suffering.

Loss is the currency we have in our hands and we can only spend what we have. Isn’t that true? Having the coin of loss means spending and giving away more of the loss to the world around us. What we give out, we get back in return. So, it grows in our lives. Hence, we become abundant in loss.

Therefore, we have to live with our loss forever because we never have any lack of it. That’s right, isn’t it?

Does the coin have another side to it? My question took my aunties by surprise. They jerked their head as if they had been shaken to pull their heads out of the habitual coverings of old subconscious beliefs.

This simple, out-of-the box question made them refocus on their coins.

Can you flip it and see what’s on the other side of the coin? Realizing that there was another side to the coin was a Eureka moment for them. They flipped the coin to reveal the other side of it.

It read “Gain”.

Focusing your eyes on the medium you are reading this article on (e.g. paper, laptop, mobile etc.) limits your field of vision. Similarly, focusing your eyes on loss limits you to the perspective of loss. There’s nothing else in your reality. Only loss exists. And according to the laws of the universe, what you focus on, expands. But when you expand your field of vision, now you can see more. You can see the object you are sitting on, the wall across the room etc.

Changing your focus means changing your perspective towards it or looking at it in a non-habitual way. Changing what you think or what ideas you attach to something reveals that thing in a new light. When you flip the coin, you realize there’s another side to it—the side of Gain. Now, you have the currency of gain to spend and expand on.

Ready to die: Understanding why Allah created us

If you keep thinking and living within what you have been taught to live by without questioning or reflecting on it, you live a life of a zombie or a copy machine. You live your fake imprinted reality. Living with such imprints mean you don’t take the time to live authentically and fully.

You only live in loss if you keep repeating to yourself the false notion that you are in loss because you have lost something. Have you ever thought:

What have you gained from your loss?

What can you gain from it?

How can you gain from it?

When you start focusing on the above questions, you will most certainly figure out how to turn your loss into gains. Have you gained an experience, wisdom, mindfulness, better living attitude, appreciation and gratitude for what you have or something else? Losing my mother while holding on to the coin of gain—among other things—also turned me into an author and a healer for grieving hearts. It made me be more present to the presence of God. It made me appreciative and full of love. I gained so many blessings as a result of this loss that I can’t keep count of. I don’t miss my mother because she is even more alive in not just my life but the life of every person I connect with. Aren’t we discussing her subtly right now? Isn’t she the root and subject of this article? Instead of focusing your energy on missing someone you lost, why can’t you think of ways to keep them alive? Ask yourself, how can I cherish my lost loved one today?

Life: Journeying along white water rapids in a rubber dingy

Moreover, as a believer in Higher Power, have you reflected upon the following questions while in suffering?

Does God want me to remain in hurt and loss?

Did He give me this loss so I can remain stuck in pain and suffering forever?

Does He want me to keep missing my loved one?

What does He really want me to understand and live by?

How does He look at this situation of loss?

What does He want me to gain out of it?

Lastly, who says it’s true that I have to live with the loss of my mother or my sister forever. It’s only a choice I can make provided I am willing and ready to make my own mindful choices for my personal and spiritual growth. I have made my choice. Have you?

Use the Coin of Life in your favor so you have a lot of gains of love, goodness, and blessings to share. Use your darkness, pain, and suffering to your advantage. You were put into this situation so you could light the path for others by first illuminating your own path with the light of truth.

Be the silver lining in someone else’s dark cloud because you are not just needed but called for it.

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