Freedom from the Heartache of Grief and Loss
Posted: Monday, April 12, 2004
Freedom from the Heartache of Grief and Loss
Freedom from the Heartache of Grief and Loss

Cammy (chat host): Hello everyone! It is so great to see you here tonight. We are excited to have with us as our guest speaker an amazing author and teacher, Guy Finley. Thank you, Guy, for being here with us this evening.

GF: I'm delighted to share the evening with you and all of the friends online.

Cammy: About a year ago, my friend Wendy shared an incredible book with me, "The Secret of Letting Go." It touched me very deeply as it gave me new and better insight into that particularly important issue of life, and it is such an honor that the author, Guy Finley, agreed to be with us here tonight.

Guy is also the best-selling author of "Freedom From the Ties That Bind" and more than 20 other books and audio albums. In addition, Guy is the director of Life of Learning Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals realize their true relationships with life through higher self-studies.

I urge all of you to take the time to visit Guy's Web site. It is a WEALTH of spiritual information and free, helpful higher knowledge.

And now...I give to you...the wonderful Guy Finley!

GF: Thank you, Cammy. It's a pleasure to be here. I have a few opening comments to pass along before we start with questions, so I hope everyone will read along.

Seldom do we know a greater need for making a fresh start than in those mind-numbing moments when we find ourselves feeling that life has stripped away something cherished from our grasp and we experience the pain of loss. All that's left after these events is an unconscious, invisible residue of fear; a faint psychic trembling which tends to taint every area of our lives with distasteful timidity, born of the neurotic suspicion that in some way, life is conspiring to take something away from us.

But real life is about development, enrichment, and fulfillment that begins with our Spirit. If there's grief, if there's the pain of a loss, that moment has to be a part of life, and a part of its growth. Looking upon the loss of anything as though it means the end of it, is the same as believing falling autumn leaves mark the end of the trees.

Clearly, we must learn to see our own lives in a whole new light. We need a higher understanding of how to look at the pain of loss, one that won't leave us its captive, but that will show us the secret of cooperating with life, and how to transform our seeming losses into the higher lessons they're intended to be.

The good fortune is that such an elevated understanding already exists. Gather all the facts about to be presented. Follow them all the way to freedom. A free human being is never thrown for a loss. Just because our higher nature doesn't go into a tailspin each time some part of our life drops the other shoe doesn't mean that this nature is uncaring or disconnected from the goodness of our own.

To the contrary, the real joys of life are the natural, effortless expressions of our own True Nature. But these pure joys don't belong to us as our possessions, anymore than a bird owns the freedom of the open skies through which it soars. Even so, many of the men and women I speak to have accepted the negative notion that just to be alive means they're going to ache over some kind of loss. And in my meetings with groups of seekers about the possibility of learning to live without the pain of loss, most everyone is both attracted and frightened by the idea of it.

In our ongoing discussions, these divided feelings always provide abundant energy for a stimulating, inwardly healing dialogue. Some say the thought of going through life without aching over a loss of some kind is a very welcome notion. But the whole idea of not feeling loss is also frightening, because what kind of person doesn't feel badly when they lose something or someone near and dear to them?

This is a very important question, and its patient investigation will give us a whole new way to look at the nature of loss. But the sensitive issues raised by such an investigation require we suspend those strong feelings we have about loss and sorrow. To know if there's really a way to take the torment out of personal loss, we begin with a question. If you see a person you don't know, and he's looking around frantically for something he's lost, is his loss of any real, or personal, concern to you?

Generally speaking, this man's loss is of no concern to you because whatever it is he's lost doesn't belong to you. Before we can begin to understand, and then dismiss, the feelings of pain and emptiness which always seem to shadow our losses, we must become aware of those invisible inner mechanisms that create our sense of attachment, of ownership. This whole question of loss, and how little we understand it, runs deeper than we know. For instance, beyond the actual heartache of those losses we've learned to live with, we also live with the fear of losing what we haven't yet lost.

This kind of invisible fear is worse than anything we might actually lose, because its presence makes us wary of almost everything that seems to be bright and promising. In trying to avoid being hurt again, this fear of loss tends to hold us back from openly committing ourselves to new opportunities and challenging relationships. Either we don't give them our best, or we just refuse to enter those situations altogether. Something in us knows that's not right.

There really is a way for us to transform these losses into something self-empowering, instead of just learning to live with what is inherently self-punishing. Let's take one well-studied step at a time. We're right on the verge of a very important discovery. Imagine for a moment that you owned a pair of magic glasses which you were free to wear any time you thought you had lost something. Now, further imagine that through these glasses you could see, clearly, each time, that whatever it was you'd thought you'd lost, wasn't, in fact, really yours at all.

What do you think would happen to the pain of your loss with such a new kind of sight? You wouldn't suffer over it, and everything about your life would be different, open, new. Wouldn't that kind of life be something worth working for? What do you think these stressful times following your feelings of loss are trying to tell you? What exactly is it you hope to win for your repeated struggles to resist them? What we want is to be in the position one day where nothing can take away -- or threaten -- what we've gained.

If we look very closely at a moment of loss, regardless of its nature, you'll see that the underpinnings of your experience of this event are feelings of great vulnerability. We tend to feel at risk in a loss of any kind, even though when we think about that loss our mind will tell us that these concerns are not solely selfish. You may have lost something, even a loving relationship that was special to you. But the pain of your loss is not that the person, position, or possession is gone from your life.

It's impossible to lose something you never owned. We don't own -- no one owns -- what we call our relationships, our appearance, our authority, intelligence, even our very own life. What we actually lose is an image, a carefully constructed mental picture of ourselves long secured in place by someone or something that helps us to see ourselves -- or feel about ourselves -- the way we imagine ourselves to be. And with that person, position, or possession no longer in place to sustain that image, our pain is in the loss of that imaginary self.

There may have been a change in your life, but this change is not the pain of loss. We can't own something that's in constant change, and all of life is exactly that: ceaseless, eternal change. But we are compelled to seek what we call security. So we create mental images we can hold in place. Images that don't change. Again, real life is change. At some point, real events won't allow these false images to remain intact. Then we can no longer deny reality its course. Something has to give. Mental pictures -- no matter how well conceived -- are always the first to break up in any shakeup. It's the collapse of these images that we call loss.

There is most certainly real pain in losing someone you love, but again, we must remind ourselves -- even in the face of this awful emptiness -- that all of our painful feelings of loss belong to a lower level of mind whose thought nature it is to create a world around it from which it is ever apart. But, who you really are can't lose anything because your True Nature is one with the whole timeless goodness of life. And it's impossible to lose yourself!

When you know you can't really lose anything or anyone, if you understand there is no real division between you and the one you love or, for that matter, between you and love itself, then the heartache of loss simply ceases to exist for you. Love never dies -- it always was, is, and will be -- and those we really love are never out of reach of the love we have for them. Healing comes with growing deeper into the understanding of the real nature of love that transforms our suffering.

For more ideas on how to turn any sorrow into a higher self-healing, some additional comments will follow the end of this chat session. OK, Cammy. I'm ready for the first question.

Duncan: I cannot deal with the loss of my brother. As I have always been the fixer in my family, I also do not know how to grieve. Because of this I now suffer from panic attacks, which is ruining my life. I'm afraid of death, and I'm afraid of leaving my son behind. It is a terrible feeling, and I need to know how to heal.

GF: Funny enough, the real healing we all look for in a crisis such as you've sustained begins with not looking for a way out of it.

Duncan: How do you mean?

GF: What we must understand is that every event in our lives is not only intended to help us grow beyond ourselves, but actually gives us the ground for this transformation if we know how to use it.

Duncan: How do we figure out how to use it?

GF: This is difficult sometimes for us because our usual first reaction is one of great resistance to an unwanted event. The next thing is that we become captives of our own negative reaction and then actually struggle to free ourselves from this captivity by trying to imagine a way out.

Everything that happens to us comes to us with the possibility of our participating in the beginning, middle, and end of it all at once. Here's what this means. Letting go is a natural action that we are intended to grow from once we realize that what we are clinging to is actually keeping us in the painful situation we wish to be free of.

Duncan: I am trying to let go, however I feel guilty letting go.

GF: In a way it's a part of us that is trying to avoid what has happened to us that actually keeps us in that situation we wish to transcend. For an exercise, the next time that painful thought comes up about your brother, and with it the wish to escape the anguish, do nothing other than become conscious of what your own mind is telling you.

Learn to be the observer of what is trying to drag you back through this bitter event, instead of identifying with the thoughts and feelings that continually want you to revisit this unhappy moment.

Duncan: OK. Thank you, Guy. I will buy your book. I'm sure there are a lot of questions from others. I appreciate your time.

GF: Duncan, the more you succeed at consciously stepping back from what is trying to drag you into an irresolvable condition, the more you'll recognize that you have the power to release these thoughts and feelings that are hurting you.

Bonnie: I just feel so guilty. Should I feel guilty for leaving our mother in a nursing home to die? She had bruises all the time... stitches, black eyes, etc. She passed 18 months ago. We tried to move her... no power of attorney... I was working at the time. I just feel guilty for not trying harder.

GF: I have a saying that goes like this: We must learn to do what is in our power, and refuse to do what is not. In this instance, what is not in your power is to change the past. It's gone. It's over.

Bonnie: I don't quite understand that... but I am trying to accept it.

GF: The parts of you still trying to punish you are seemingly "right," but they are doing wrong to you by directing your attention to something that makes you ache for what is of no longer any valid reason. What is in your power to do is to catch these "voices" and emotions that want to drag you into dark states and recognize them for what they are… not your friend, not your guide! And certainly something that you should stay as awake to as you can so that when these negative states want you to relive what cannot be changed, you drop them, and that's that!

Bonnie: I will try harder, and thank you very much.

dixieangel542: How do you deal with loss when a teenager commits suicide and you blame yourself for the loss of life?

GF: While it's true we are in a great relationship with life on this planet and with everyone upon it, we are not responsible for the actions of others who have decided that they don't what to be a part of the learning curve connected with our necessary spiritual development. So much of our pain with regards to grief and guilt over those no longer with us belongs to parts of us that while being seemingly caring and kind, really do just the opposite to us each time we agree to give them our attention.

dixieangel542: Yes, but couldn't I have done something? Anything. I should have sensed these emotions!

GF: It isn't a question of how do I get over this loss, because what you have to get over in this instance -- learn to drop -- is the parts of you that want to continue reliving what is absolutely not your concern anymore. But you must be very strong with these revisiting thoughts that want you to feel this guilt. Give them nothing. Gradually they will grow tired of coming to you to cause conflict and they will fade away on their own. You must work at this to know the truth of it.

dixieangel542: She was my daughter, and we'd had a fight.

GF: The very best thing that we can do for anyone -- living or not -- is to awaken to ourselves, to become conscious of those parts of ourselves that not only compromise ourselves but that have compromised others in the past.

dixieangel542: I know that God knows what He is doing. I just wish I could talk with her one more time.

GF: We can change nothing about what has happened in the past. We can change ourselves in this present moment and become different human beings for our work. Then, not only are we made more whole, but all of life -- including those no longer with us -- receive the benefit of our inner work.

Diane: How can you let go of a love relationship that you thought would last and now only creates pain on a daily basis?

GF: We must learn what it means to use the break-up to "wake up." Here's something that will help: First and foremost, recognize that most of the pain that you feel in the loss of this relationship comes to you only when you begin to relive what you once believed yourself to have. What was is no more, and this means that the images of this relationship now in the past should be recognized not as comforting thoughts, but as the tormenting tricksters they actually are.

Diane: I especially seem to feel it when I'm waking up in the morning.

GF: In the morning in particular, the mind searches for familiar thoughts and feelings by which to create a familiar sense of self. Learn to watch this part of yourself, and when you catch it trying to make you go through the experience again, you can simply say quietly to yourself, "Aha - got 'cha! Not this time." Then drop the thought and start over. Watch for it to return.

Diane: I'm trying to find a way to let go, but I don't seem to be successful.

GF: Letting go takes work, because there are parts of us that love to cling to what compromises us. Recognizing this feature in our present unawakened nature is the beginning of awakening to real freedom.

Dan: I seem to feel grief when I see an image in my mind of what I have lost. What can I do to get rid of this image that comes up in my mind?

GF: Don't try to rid yourself of these images. Learn instead to see through them. What does this mean? Resistance to the disturbance IS the disturbance. This is a timeless truth that cannot be understood deeply enough. The more we don't want something to appear in our mind, the stronger that unwanted image becomes.

Dan: I don't understand. Can you tell me more?

GF: Recognizing that pushing away what punishes us is part of our punishment in that moment, changes our whole relationship with those thoughts and feelings in that same instant.

Lyd: I am ready to face my new life without my soul mate and husband, but all I see is a blank page. When and where will the energy to create begin?

GF: I'm sure you've heard these words, but I'll clarify them: All things pass. The key here is that we have to be willing to let them pass. When we see that blank page, that dark wall in front of us that seems barren of possibilities, we must recognize that we are not seeing life as it actually is, but only life the way our present nature is projecting it. Healing is a law and principle of real life. Nothing can interfere with it. The only way in which we don't heal is when, in our unconsciousness, we unknowingly participate in re-injuring ourselves through mistaken thoughts and feelings about our own past.

Lyd: So I am to be more patient with myself?

GF: It isn't easy to get over the loss of the one we love. But when we do recognize that love belongs to a world greater than ourselves, and that we are intended to be instruments of that goodness, then it's possible to let go of the old and allow the new to pour in, as it will if we'll do our part.

Mai: If we cease giving those no longer with us our attention, or at least the things we feel guilty about, and if reliving lost love ones isn't our concern anymore, how do we learn and grow from it if we just say, "They're gone… forget about them"?

GF: Here's a great secret: Anything that can be learned that is true and transforming -- in the real meaning of the word -- is learned in the moment or not at all. We cannot learn by thinking back over who we are, what we've done, or even those we've lost. If we were unkind, we can be sure we will be unkind again until we've learned exactly what it is within us that causes us to be unkind. This is why it's so important for us to understand what it means to be awake to ourselves in the present moment. Only by catching those parts of us that are cruel, or otherwise self-compromising, can we actually change our relationship with those parts, as well as all those around us affected by them.

Mai: So many present moments, so hard to remain awake ALL the time!

GF: Yes, it is.

olii: When my husband passed, I seemed more at peace than at a loss… like he was still with me. I felt guilty for not missing him. Is that normal? I think I feel like that because he seems to be with me a lot. I just feel him close by.

GF: You answer the question for yourself. Is guilt a good feeling or a bad feeling? Is it helpful or hurtful? Does it serve you, your true self, or do all guilty feelings make us slaves of negative states?

olii: It's like I am afraid others will think I was not a good wife by acting like I don't miss him.

GF: When we truly love someone, when we have love in our heart, the conditions that allow this kind of goodness don't change the goodness when the conditions change. Never mind other people. Forget them.

olii: OK. That makes me feel better.

GF: All they know -- those who would condemn you -- are those thoughts and feelings that won't leave them alone. Be wise. Have your own life.

Friday: How do we cope when we try to go on and at times we are OK, but then it hits us again?

GF: We all have to see that "coping" with life doesn't work. We're not on this planet to be the slaves of any painful thought or feeling, of any troubled relationship within us or outside of us. We must learn -- and we can learn -- how to use everything that happens to us to free us of the very nature that took us into that condition now challenging us. We need a new mind, a new heart, and we won't find it in this world. This planet is dedicated to keeping us in its grip so that it can sell us whatever it will with the promise that freedom comes "down the line."

Cammy: Guy, that is all the time we have for tonight. I know you had some closing information to share with us.

GF: Yes, thanks Cammy. I'd like to share a few last thoughts.

To turn any sorrow into a higher self-healing, we must start at the level of feeling each loss as though we've just lost a part of ourselves. From this moment forward, each time you feel a loss of some kind, meet it in this bold new way. Your higher actions will transform that loss into the seed of self-liberation.

After each setback, regardless of its nature, leave that aching, empty space within you empty and aching. Your new aim is not to fill it with one recognizable thing: no plans, no anger, no fears, no regrets, hopes or dreams.

Let no mental or emotional pictures of any kind rush in to bridge that gaping hole in your heart. This inner action doesn't mean you try to push any of these pains away. Denial is just another way in which we secretly try to fill the aching space. Instead, remain quietly aware of the pain and of that part of you that would make the ache go away by creating some new image to cling to in the storm.

Have nothing to do with either these mental creations, nor with their creator. Both originate from the lower level of your mind that is the source of your sadness. If you allow this divided nature to fill the space, you'll only have to fill it again and again. You can live from a new self that doesn't have to go searching for security because its lofty nature is already whole. Each conscious refusal, to answer the ache of any loss with your own security-restoring solutions, invites reality to flood in and fill that space. And reality is never thrown for a loss.

This very special approach to meeting each loss, and its grief, helps place you above your own habitual painful responses. Which is a lot better than carrying them around. The reason you can take this brave new inner action is because now you know: your sense of loss -- that terrible empty experience -- is only present within you because you've forgotten who you really are.

But all fearful feelings fade in the light of true self-understanding. And as you grow in the awareness of your own timeless nature, a new strength makes itself known to you, within you. Calm and confidence come into your heart. Insight increases.

You see your life has never been about winning and losing. Now you understand. Everything, everyone, each event, is cause for the exploration, discovery, and celebration of your essential self. And this realization both teaches and cheers you, for your new knowing reveals that each of your seeming losses is really a secret invitation, a call for you to go higher and higher, a summons from your higher nature to enter into its fully liberated life and live forever without the fear of loss.

Losing a loved one -- a truly loved one -- cannot go without effect. It is natural to feel a certain kind of "hole" in our hearts and minds. The ones we love are like our favorite mirrors in which we not only come to know their image, but our own as well.

When someone passes there is the grief of losing ourselves. Where it gets twisted is when we continue to cry over the loss of the ways in which we knew ourselves. The key here is to be awake and not take part in grieving over one's self at the loss of another. This is where grief is not only "a lie," but unnatural, and leads to long-term unhappiness in the continual reliving of the loss.

There are certain invisible laws in this world of ours, one of them being that everything passes, no exceptions. And when we invest our sense of self in that which passes and then that thing, possession, person changes, we feel first a fear and then a corresponding sense of loss because we have mistaken its life for our own. Suffering follows.

We are all asked to give ourselves to God's Life and in exchange He will give us His Life. Our task is to find out what it means to be a part of this rebirth... which we cannot do as long as we unconsciously give ourselves over to the punishing thoughts and feelings surrounding our pain.

While you do what you must to go forward with your daily life, let go of everything else in thought that tries to drag you down. This you can do with inner watchfulness. Stay out of the "mud" of self-pity. It will dry on you and harden your heart.

All conscious self-healing is painful, but proves its purpose. ALL running from ourselves -- lamenting our situation instead of dying to the self that got us into it -- is not only painful, but can never do anything but forward its own darkened purpose, which is to ensure we remain unseeing and in suffering.

You must make the choice: Do you run around -- physically, mentally, emotionally -- hoping to restore what has passed OR -- do you sit back, remember that your true wish is for freedom in God's Life, and await guidance from this Light?

Do you continue to suffer unconsciously for what will amount to nothing gained no matter what comes from your thrashing about -- OR do you begin the work of letting go and consciously suffering the death of who you have been up until now?

If we are willing to learn from what happens to us, then we must release our resistance to the event and be willing to bear the vision before us as only it can teach us -- show us -- why what has transpired has gone the way it has.

When the pain threatens to overwhelm you, ask yourself the following question at the moment you can remember yourself to do so: Is this self that I am presently experiencing, the "me" that I want to be? Or: Is this suffering self how I want to know myself? And then just come as awake as you can to the realization that you are not who you want to be at that moment, but that something foreign to your True Nature has imposed itself on you and taken over your life.

Then, once having done this, do nothing else except realize that while you may be temporarily powerless to stop the lower state from possessing you, you are empowered to recognize the negative state as an intruder. This conscious awareness of your true pained condition is what it means to put the light on your suffering. That is your job.

The Light will do its part, if you will do your part. Suffer in silence, retire often into the interior closet of your love for God, and give yourself to whatever guidance you then receive. Persist until you are free!

Cammy: Guy, thank you so very much for sharing such a wonderful chat event. Be sure to check out his books "The Secret of Letting Go" and "Freedom From the Ties that Bind."

GF: Remember that the limit of our present view is never the limit of our possibilities.

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