As a culture, we’re not taught or modelled on how to cope with loss. Loss, of course, comes in many forms. There is life after gut-wrenching grief, and the way it shapes us can bring a depth to creativity which needs channelling in some way.
My father’s sudden death in a car accident 22 months ago, has influenced me in ways I could never have imagined. The engineering of my heart and soul is internal, of course, but the manifestation of those changes inevitably appears externally at some point. Our creative gifts beg to be shared with the world. In a way, this is the archetype of Chiron, the wounded healer.
It is an essential part of the human experience to experience loss, to endure the descent, and then to rise again. We discover that there is something more to us. Our authentic self must learn to show its face without apology.
One of the defining moments of my life was standing by my dead father’s body as he lay in his casket. I held his hand and thanked him for all the hard work he’d done in his lifetime. I said my words out loud, and the tears fell freely. Even to this day, there is a part of my mind which can’t quite reconcile how hard he worked (pioneering mining expeditions and leading 2000 men in the wild jungles of Papua and New Guinea) and that he’s now gone. He’s nothing but ashes. What was the point of all those years of working away from the family home? What was the point of working so hard like that when at the end of his life there is nothing to show for it?
His death has triggered two things in me which are, ironically, diametrically opposed. One is that there is no point stressing over anything: deadlines, faulty relationships, other people’s opinions, bank account balance and all the other mundane things about living on this earth. Part of me has felt like it is pointless having any ambition. After all, what am I actually striving for?
And then, right in opposition is a part of me that has more life in me than ever…a part of me which wants to continue to make the most of every precious day on this Earth. In appreciation of all this, it means living in the present moment, of course…but from within that particular gift comes the rising energy to explore the world, literally and metaphorically. I am thrilled to be alive! And yet, I am not scared of dying. When my times comes - whether it is slowly and with consciousness, or sudden - I will embrace that particular adventure.
Loss has brought meaning to my life, and it has released a creative spark which I guess was always there but for one reason or another has lain dormant all these years. Creatively, I’m not here to please my parents, my friends, my immediate family…just myself. I have, after all these years, come to realise that my creative juices don’t need anyone’s approval. The release of psychic energy that brings is huge. And I owe it to what has so far been the greatest loss of my life: a parent.