For the last two months it seems I have comforted more friends about ‘ending’ more than ever. COVID has caused many job losses, and for some – the ending of relationships or even marriages. It almost cost me mine, too. The feelings of rejection and loss are difficult for most of us to navigate. Nothing in life could have ever prepared us for this occurrence.
I also experienced that deep loss in the last few years. I was laid off after almost two decades of working for my dream company back in the 2009 recession. My older brother also passed away when we were re-launching Kekoa in 2016, and along the way, I have lost some of my closest friends. Death of a career or death of a loved one affects all of us in a deep, painful way. The agonizing pain is called grief. It is a necessary evil. Grief affects our emotional, physical, and psychological states. It saturates every cell in our body. There are days we feel lifeless, and the tears don’t seem to stop. Every breath hurts and at times we don’t even want to leave our homes. When we’re grieving, a flood of neurochemicals and hormones dance around in our head and body. The disturbance of hormones infects our sleep, our appetite...At times we feel fatigue and full of anxiety. The grieving process feels as if it consumes our entire being. Each one of us has our ways of coping and dealing with it. Regardless, grief is an important process that we must experience. If we deny this process, severe depression will meet us at the gate...and that is even more damaging than grief. Denial will lead to us carrying unresolved baggage unconsciously everywhere we go.
I have spent many hours exploring this concept of death (ending) and grief. I want to understand it so I can cope with this beautiful life. Please allow me to share my journey of my discovery, my understanding of this process.
One of my all-time favorite teachers of life is Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. It was in her book on “Death and Dying” where I learned the 5 phases of grief. It’s important to understand each of these phases, so we can be aware of our own emotional state. With this awareness, it gives us hope that there is healing and peace on the other side. Grief is not forever; it’s temporary, just like life itself.
The five stages are:
I found myself experiencing each of these emotions when I was grieving for the loss of my father, my brother, and my career. All humans know that death is part of life; none of us can escape it. We are the only species on this planet that has this knowledge. The ending is the same for all sentient beings. If we use this knowledge to help guide us on how to live happily and how to live with meaning, maybe then we are not so afraid of death itself. Maybe then we can celebrate one’s passing because he or she has lived a life full of love and a life with meaning. The sadness derives from our memories and attachment, but if we are in a conscious state, we understand all life has an expiration date. Naturally, we never want or accept an “end” to something that we love and attach to so deeply.
Kekoa Collective was a rebirth after my career had ended and the passing of my elder brother, Doan Minh Tuan, aka Michael. It re-confirms my life GPS.
My religion is kindness. My religion is love. My religion is forgiveness.
I know it seems dark for a blog on Aloha Friday, but I am hoping with a Mai Tai in your hand, you can take a minute to contemplate your life GPS.