My heart is heavy this week. Wednesday afternoon, we lost an amazingly fierce woman, Patsy Terrell. I didn’t know Patsy well, but her driven life, spirit of collaboration, sparkly sense of style, and love of people moved and inspired me. I just felt better just knowing Patsy was in the world. I wrote a blog on Wednesday, trying to process the sudden loss of someone who was so vital only hours before. (Here’s a story about Patsy in the Hutchinson News.) Watching my newsfeed on Facebook since Wednesday, I see that I’m not the only one who is mourning this incredible woman. Her reach was broad and deep.
I think this has been especially emotional because it also comes the same week as the anniversary of another fierce woman we lost three years ago. The sudden death of Tanya Tandoc, the beloved owner of Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, still feels like a punch in the gut. Another driven, inspiring, sparkly soul I think of often and miss every day. Her reach was broad and deep too. Compounding these feelings of loss, are all the other fierce, inspiring women - and men who left this Earth too soon. This list is vast for me, as I’m sure it is for you too.
Grief sucks, but when we love people, it is one of the consequences. We try hard to push grief away to “deal with it,” judging it as a negative emotion. I know this is what I’ve always thought. Then recently I read the article, A Time to be Sad, in Mindful Magazine. It helped me understand that sadness is an emotion, just like any other, and no emotions are “bad.” But the point that was the most compelling to me was the suggestion that rather than resisting sadness, what if we welcomed it and listened to what it has say? What insights and truths can we discover about ourselves and others, if we’re willing to just let ourselves be sad and think about it awhile?
I’ve learned recently that when we become overwhelmed with emotion, our ancient reptile brain takes over and clouds our ability to think clearly. By simply naming the emotion, our thoughts move from that fight, flight, freeze area of our brain to the cognitive part of the brain where we process reasoning, creativity and problem-solving. By simply admitting to myself that I’m feeling sad, I can think about what that means to me and how I want the lessons I’ve learned from the person I’ve lost to become part of my life.
I believe with all my soul that we never truly lose anyone. The people we love, the people who impacted our lives, live forever in us. We pass along parts of these people to the ones we touch, then they pass this along to the people they touch, the ripples getting wider and wider as they go. In this aspect, Patsy, Tanya and the rest of my loved ones will live on forever.
Live today as if it were your last,