Loss is a common experience.
Those who seem to have everything can experience loss in the midst of all they have. Those who have never experienced abundance, can experience loss, too. Loss doesn’t really care what stage of life you’re in – what you have or don’t have. To varying degrees (maybe now more than ever), loss is a natural part of life.
Some of us are more sensitive to the experience of loss than others. Of course, grief is a part of that experience. There is another aspect that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently – the void. You know that experience in which the thing that used to be leaves an empty space where it once was.
As a dancer, I think about space often. How does it affect us? How does our presence affect it? How do we hold it? How do we fill it? How do we move through it? How does our presence, holding, filling, and moving affect others in the space?
The experience of the void is interesting to me. It seems that the space that’s left by a particular loss has a unique shape. It’s the shape of that which has been lost. I don’t think anything else can come to fill that space in the same way.
Sometimes we accept that, and it’s beautiful. More common seems to be the search for something to fill the void – with varying degrees of health and success. My experience is that, instead of searching for a refill, there might be ways to care for the void itself.
It seems that part of the experience of loss is simply sitting in the void – either alone or with trusted friends. We take account of the empty space. Maybe it’s bigger than we expected, or smaller. We re-collect the memories (especially those we thought we had forgotten), and reorganize them. The space, as I envision it, becomes an exhibit to the past, instead of being filled with life.
As with any other kind of exhibit we get to decide what walking through it should evoke, in ourselves and in others. For the best of memories, we get to remember all the joy. For the worst of memories, maybe we just want the reminder that we survived. We get to be active in the design of our exhibit.
We also get to decide who gets a tour. As people are allowed to tour the space the stories can be retold. The memories comes back to life and can live on in others. We can share the joys of past memories, and the testimonies of survival. We get a say in who comes in.
As difficult as loss is, we have a divine opportunity to reconcile the void by designing, curating, and sharing an exhibit of what was lost. It can be found again, for the benefit of all people.
What exhibits are you designing today?