Loss, gain, changes in family life and becoming an elder

To be human is to inevitably spend one’s life puzzling really big questions. From unrequested birth, we are all on a journey, culminating ultimately in an inevitable end point (for our human form anyway).

For me as for many I know, loss is something we struggle with.  I think intrinsically we know that struggling with loss is part of what it is to be human. Inevitably there are big losses that can happen in life, which are traumatic and life changing that is a whole different subject. What I’m musing on today are the day to day losses that are perhaps less obvious, less talked about and sometimes very difficult to deal with, despite their relative ‘normality’.

For women, there is suddenly a lot of focus on ‘Menopause’ in the public domain. The more defined loss of fertility in women has become something that we can discuss more openly and has brought awareness to some of the issues surrounding this that people may struggle with. I’m quite sure that this is largely a positive thing.

There are many other ‘natural’ transitions that human beings will go through, that could conceivably be defined in some ways as a loss. Adolescence is often recognized as being a difficult life phase as it marks the ‘loss of childhood’ and the relative safety of an environment that was held secure by the first people who cared for you.  Similarly, getting older, many people will experience mobility issues, perhaps other health conditions and associated issues, all of which may have a profound impact on former freedoms and may very much be felt as a loss.

However, one of the most interesting things about loss is how differently it can be dealt with and how there seems to be ways to embrace it and if that is too strong a word, to work towards greater acceptance of it as part of the natural order of life. Perhaps we have seen people who seem to radiate a superhuman ability to accept and embrace the most difficult of circumstances; even somehow to expand their very life force into the space that the loss has created. Often, they would perhaps not describe or see themselves like that-and this in some ways only seems to highlight their inner strength.

My sister very recently forwarded me a post online from a lady who has lived the last decade of her life very much under the media spotlight and the scrutiny of social media-having been diagnosed with bowel cancer. She had chosen to use this diagnosis as an opportunity to expose what life was truly like whilst living with cancer and continuing to be a mum and working and to raise awareness and money for charity all at the same time. She filmed her final video as she accepted the news that there was no active treatment left-it was so incredibly inspiring and uplifting, especially in her frank admission of her fear, alongside the most incredible inner strength that radiated from her.

On a lighter note, one thing I have been finding hard, is the transition from having young children- game to get on board with the family agenda- to having 3 independent beings, in no way wanting to participate in the family life that we have worked so hard to create! How did this happen!? In my brighter moments I reflect on the fact that this is what I have sought to do-to create healthy, independent children-ready to mature into young adults who will be taking on the world without our day to day guidance or hand holding. In the aftermath of another grumpy Sunday, I can feel totally overwhelmed with sentimentality-almost wallowing in the feeling of loss for the family life we all so readily enjoyed and shared. Gearing up to holidays together can feel apprehensive, where they only ever felt exciting. Is it me or is it really difficult to constantly be considering everyone else’s needs-especially for space and independence? Especially when, ironically, for the last almost 20 years our own space and independence has been almost entirely sacrificed!! Ahhh…and exhale.!


It is natural

It is moving on

It is letting go

It is right and it is not just loss…..wait, what? Could it be gain too? Could we, by moving towards greater acceptance and letting go of these small natural losses, be preparing ourselves in small ways for the ultimate letting go?? Could this ultimately be a gain? Allowing us to live more peacefully, more contentedly, not constantly fearing the future, not rigidly resisting change and holding that tension in our bodies, in our minds -this is me by the way, or should I say rather that it is not easy for me to feel at peace with change naturally-I am working on it and feel I am a work in progress 😊 Again, rather ironically that was one of the most potent lessons that I took from Covid and that first most stressful of years in the Barn. There was nothing I could do, nothing I could have done-we had worked so hard to get to a point and then it was all turned on it’s head. If it taught me anything, it was that to survive and be fit for purpose i.e. fit in my soul and heart and ready to give to my family, my work and other people who had suffered far more than I in the pandemic, I had to turn the loss into gain, I had to accept it, move on and see it as part of life.

My teenagers will thank me one day!

I did some great reading over the lockdown-all of which helped to keep me sane. One of the books I read and found so valuable, talked about the fact that we have a lot of older people in our society but perhaps not many elders. Elders, being people who are well placed to set an example of how to live in a generous, loving and life-affirming way. Dealing with loss gracefully and modeling letting go, able to consciously respond not react, able to be more selfless and encourage and support younger generations.  Becoming an elder takes work, and the work is now, the work is day to day and it is relentless. There are so many things to help us though, and so many people ready to support us on the journey. It is one of the reasons I love The Barn so much. A yoga class, a bit of relaxation after a cardio session, a coffee with a friend, a hug with a fellow mum, a cry on the way home-it all helps so much. It helps and it affirms and you can be there for others as they are there for you, without judgement and without having to fit in. Meditation, community, many great books, good relationships, good religion, a mindful approach to life- it all helps and if that all doesn’t help-write a blog!! It’s hugely cathartic!!

With much love, blessing and solidarity, Helen xxxx

Pancake Day..ry free

Hi! I’m Helen, Physiotherapist at SHP and total foodie! Diagnosed with Coeliac and Chron’s disease many years ago, I went on a journey to improve

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