When one has been declared redundant, fired from one’s job, a relationship comes to an end or a beloved partner dies, it is painful to let go and face the unknown. Will I ever hold down another job? How can I go on living when the one who meant most to me is no longer here? …
We cannot escape this sense of desolation, nor should we attempt to do so, but each day, bit by bit, learn to confront the emptiness.
The emptiness is, of course, inside us. The work or the person that made life meaningful for us is no longer there and so we are thrown back on ourselves. We all have occasions to grieve. Think of the last lines of ‘The Oven Bird’ by Robert Frost:
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.
We have to trust to destiny that something new does exist around the corner. As the Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön has written, ‘When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure.’ At a time of deep loss, of seeming failure, it is time to obey the command: ‘Let down your nets into the deep.’
If we can go down into our own depths, face the pain and the emptiness and the loneliness, we shall find new growth, new possibilities which will enable us to respond to others with a deeper understanding.