Let Clinging Be Your Teacher

When someone you love dies, the most apparent form of attachment is your attachment to your relationship. Now your mother, father, partner, or friend has gone. He or she is not coming down the hall to have breakfast with you. You are not going on vacation together. He or she will not make you dinner, do the dishes, or take out the trash.

We also have attachments to things, roles, emotions, and surroundings.

A few days after my father died, my mother went to his closet and pulled out his clothing. She was distraught and could not stand to look at his things. At the time, I was shocked. On some level, I recognized that she was having an emotional reaction to his death, and seeing his clothing was triggering. A few weeks later, she had a similar episode as she walked down the hallway. She insisted that his computer desk be removed and moved into the garage immediately. Fortunately, I was able to comply. She disliked seeing the things he used daily because he was no longer here, using those things. And seeing his jacket in the closet or his empty desk was breaking her heart.

There are many lessons for you in what you hang on to and what you push away. These are not simply lessons about our relationship with our loved ones. They are lessons about our relationship with ourselves and with life itself.

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