How to cope with losing someone close to you

I want to talk about loss today.

I feel it is important to discuss the topic of how to cope with losing someone because it is part of our human experience.

We start to see a lot of this in our 20s and 30s.

There are many ways we experience loss - having our close family members pass away; having close friends drift apart or experiencing setbacks in our romantic lives.

What I have grown to accept is - Nothing is permanent in this world.

Life is going to be a series of hellos and then goodbyes.

When I tell my younger peers about impermanence, some react with anger and wonder what is the purpose of life if there are going to be so many goodbyes.

This is why I am dedicating an entire issue to this topic to help us make sense of this all.

The value of loss in our lives

In early 2020, I chanced upon a moving post where this guy was sharing about losing his partner.

It really touched my heart and describes the doubts and difficult emotions that many of us face. And, also how to deal with it.

Here is how he perceives it:

🌿 These are all part of the human experience

A year after losing the most important person in my life, I lost the closest person in my life.

Splitting stuff, moving out, leaving memories behind. And in the midst of all that, to pack up my life in boxes, move to another country and start anew.

But in my mistakes and difficulties, I've learnt the important lessons about life.

Most importantly, I'm getting a sense that our perception of life is measured not in time, but in love and loss.

In that vein, since young, I have led a very fulfilling life.

I have loved bravely, I have lost humbly. I have felt the pain of some and shared the joy of others. I have felt despondence and inspiration. I have been in the ravines of sorrows as much as I have scaled the heights of happiness.

🌿 How can one navigate these ups and downs of life?

Hope, thinking about what you can learn and recognizing that you have a choice

And through this journey three things are essential:

Hope - a belief that things can be better;

Learn - be the best person you can be for yourself and the people around you and

Choice - that you cannot control your fate but you can alter your destiny.

🌿 The downs help us appreciate the ups better

But the fundamental question is: is it worth it? Would it be, in the end? I would say yes. Because without love, you will never experience real loss. And without loss, you will never truly understand love.

And these intertwined concepts of the heart, applied to people, places, or experiences, create the beauty in those moments that take our breath away.

So open your heart. Live boldly. Love deeply. Be vulnerable. Be unafraid to lose.

For the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.

现在我知道了,很多事情不知不觉就来 (Source: In the mood for love)

5 lessons from letting go of someone you cannot have

I once spent more than a year trying to move on from someone.

Not sure when my feelings for him grew to this extent.

Gradually, I noticed myself starting to pay attention to the smallest details.

I constantly wondered about what I could do to make his day better.

For example, there was once he invited me to join him on his work trip.

During the few days, I would wake up earlier as my tours began around 6 AM.

Before I left for my tour, while he was asleep, I would boil water for him. This is so that by the time he woke up, it will be cool enough for him to hydrate himself.

It brought me a lot of joy to be able to care for him this way. I hoped that these small actions could bring him some small moments of happiness given his intensive job.

However, due to circumstances, I had to end things abruptly. I never once questioned my decision to walk away.

What I was not prepared for, was how long I would take to move on.

Here are 5 lessons I learned from this incident:

1. Just have a clean break:
Looking back, we should have kept more distance. He once showed up at an event knowing I was going to be there for sure. That evening and the subsequent weeks were difficult for me.

He would reach out when facing struggles in his personal life to ask for advice. I did wonder if I should just ignore these messages but I guess a part of me could not bear the thought of him feeling any kind of pain.

On my end, I did reach out to check in from time to time. My questions were always the same “How have you been these days? How are you feeling?” 其实我不要求什么,只希望你快乐

2. Do not consume their content:
When I missed him, I will look at our old photos; go to YouTube and watch his media interviews; videos of him speaking at panels and hear his voice. He was often in the news and I would read the articles about how well he was doing and feel happy for him. If I did not do that to myself, I might have moved on faster.

3. Accept the reality as it is: 
I guess part of me always had some hope that the situation could be different. I remember having a 小小的愿望 which was that one day, we can talk to each other like normal people.

There is no alternate universe out there. There is only one reality that I live in and that is the present. 放下的第一步,是要接受事实,停下心里所有的疑问。

4. Don’t idealize a person: 
We were only going out with each other for a short time so probably there were many shortcomings I did not see yet.

5. Find meaning in the experience:
Everyone comes into our life for a purpose. I was feeling lost about my future direction before I met him. He gave me a sense of direction by inspiring me to aim higher.


Reframing loss

What has been the most helpful for me in dealing with endings in my life is reframing the experience with them as something to be grateful for.

When my ah ma passed away, I did not deal with it well because I had several regrets.

I was also angry with the situation and myself. I started to isolate myself and simply disappeared from social circles.

What I find useful was really approaching things from the perspective of gratitude:

How lucky were we to be able to share and learn from each other for as long as we did.

Rather than mourn for a future that never was, why not rejoice at the time we had together instead?

How wonderful that I could experience my Ahma’s love for as long as I did.

Now, I can share the love I have for one person by opening my heart up to others and giving it to them too.

I too have been disappointed by transactional friends; romantic relationships that did not work out and people I love passing on.

Despite life having several goodbyes and saying farewell being an inevitable part of life, it is still important to invest emotionally into people, open our hearts and give our best.

I once asked someone how come he still gives his all in relationships despite being heartbroken so many times.

His reply was:

“I always give my best because if things fail, I know I can take it.”

It sums up my perspective on life as well: We cannot control circumstances changing; people leaving us and so many things in this world.

What we can have confidence in, is our ability to deal with things.

Thank you for reading till this point and letting me be vulnerable with you.