Little Deaths

I know “little death” traditionally refers to the sensation of orgasm as likened to death, but not always, and that’s not what I’m writing about here. The little deaths I’ve been experiencing are the transformations taking place in me. I’ve been doing my work – going to therapy, taking care of myself, facing my demons – and the person I am now is not the person I once was. I’m behaving in new ways and thinking in new ways. These are positive changes, but it doesn’t mean I’m not sad, because I am. A part of me has died.

My spiritual teacher says, “Death is nothing but change. A 5-year-old child is transformed in due course into a 15-year-old boy. In 10 years, the child becomes the boy. Thereafter, you will never be able to find the body of the 5-year-old child. So the child’s body has certainly died.” He then goes on to mention the boy growing into a man, and then hitting middle age, then old age, until he finally dies and says, “The rest of the changes we do not call death; but in fact, all the changes qualify as death.”

Death is a part of life -- both the big kind and the little one.

Death is a part of life — both the big kind and the little one.

All the changes qualify as death because the person that used to exist cannot be found anymore. And while I’m not a girl becoming a woman, I have still undergone transformations and probably will continue to do so throughout my life. I will die many times. We all will. Through my work in therapy, I’m learning it’s important to grieve for these old selves. To feel a sense of loss for the person I once was and can no longer be. The sadness exists and doesn’t go away through any rationalization on my part, nor any amount of looking on the bright side. It’s important for me to honor and say goodbye to the person I once was, just as it’s important to honor and say goodbye to other people when they die.

What I’m getting at here is we’re constantly undergoing a metamorphosis and it’s important to recognize that. We’re constantly dying and being reborn. But how often do we cry about it? How often do we let ourselves feel bereaved over no longer existing the way we did before? It’s just as much of a loss as other deaths and it’s just as important to cry about it.

I’m going to end by quoting a song from one of my favorite musicals, Forever Plaid, called “Cry:”

If your heartache seems to hang around too long,
and your blues keep getting bluer with each song,
remember sunshine can be found behind a cloudy sky.
So let your hair down, and go on and cry.

I dream of a world where we cry for all the little deaths we undergo. A world where we honor all past versions of ourselves by allowing ourselves to feel grief. A world where we remember sunshine can be found behind a cloudy sky, so we let ourselves go on and cry.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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