Attachment And The Pain Of Loss

I once received a great question from a workshop participant. She was struggling through the loss of a beloved friend. Here’s the question she asked me.  “Should I avoid attachment so that I avoid the pain of loss?”

The Buddhist view is that suffering is caused by attachment.

They say that the more you attach yourself to people and things in this illusory world, the more suffering you create for yourself. But here’s the thing. If we humans walked through life feeling neutral about everything, we’d get nothing done. 

We create our life experiences through desire.

  • I love caramel and praline ice cream
  • My favorite colors are russet and purple
  • I am passionate about reading
  • I’m dreaming of the day I’ll get to visit Hawaii

It is “desire” that lets me know all of the above.

Desire, to me, is not a bad word. And desire can lead to attachment. Think about what you love: people, pets your possessions, and your home. You’re attached to all of that. And so am I.

That can’t be wrong. But when we become self-identified with “our stuff” that’s when attachment leads us astray. 

So I’m not sure I subscribe entirely to the Buddhist point of view that attachment creates suffering. There is some truth to that, but I have my take on it.

1) Desire is what makes us alive. It adds color and texture to our lives. Without desire, our lives would be like a landscape with gray tones.

2) Desire is what helps us manifest what we want in our lives. Everything from the school you went to, and the model of car that you bought, the business that you created, the kind of friends you love to hang out with, the flavor of tea you like…everything is rooted in desire. 

I believe desire is necessary to navigate this human experience. If you cut desire out of your life because you want to remain unattached and not suffer the pain of loss, your life could be really meaningless.

In my view, it’s far more realistic to accept that pain is a part of life. It’s part of our human experience. It’s difficult. It’s challenging. We all struggle through the loss of people we love, the pets we adore, jobs and homes we lose.

Everything is in a constant state of change, but that’s the life we signed up for when we said yes to arriving here and living human lives on planet Earth.

Our heart is the center of love where all our emotions live. It is so powerful to be able to love and connect and share the oneness with people in your life.

Instead of shutting off your heart, love deeper. Love because you know everything and everyone has a definite timeline. You will come to your end and I will come to mine. So let’s be in each other’s lives at this time and enjoy each other fully and completely. That’s how I view desire.

  1. You’re setting yourself up for heartache if you avoid pain. Loss and pain a part of this experience so the first thing is learn to embrace pain as a natural part of life. There is pain in giving your heart to others and have them leave you, betray you, or abandon you. Sometimes, relationships come to their natural end before you’re ready for it.
  2. Help those who are in pain. We’re given pain so that we understand what pain feels like and how hard it is. Having suffered, we’re able to reach out to those who are struggling in the same way–and that really is the meaning of the human journey. I feel pain so I connect with your pain. I see your humanness much more beautifully because I know what it is to suffer loss.
  3. Listen to your own pain. Listen to your own pain and understand what it’s saying to you. If you don’t listen to your pain, you begin to close your heart off. You decide that pain is to be avoided. You distract yourself from it. You try to hide from it. You feel the need to numb it. Conversely that creates more suffering. Instead, embrace the messages that pain is bringing you and move through the painful experience. That’s how we’re meant to respond to pain.

* Be attached.

* Love fully.

* Love deeply.

Love everyone who comes into your life as well as you can. Understand that love is the greatest gift that you get to leave behind when your time here comes to its end.

If you found this useful, here are 2 ways in which you can learn from me:

1. Connect with me on my Facebook Business Page.

2. Work with me privately. Reply to this message and tell me what you’d like to work on together and I’ll tell you the next step in the process.

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