Vilma Reynoso

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The Unexpected Gap

It is autumn. It is a time that signifies the end of something, the beginning of something else, and the “in-between.” It is a time when the old life withers and new life eventually emerges. It is a time of change.

So many of us are truly afraid of change, but change is something we cannot avoid. It is part of life no matter what. It is the relinquishing of the old, the bringing about of the new, and the eventual merging of the soul with both. It is the beginning of new life. It is normal. This is life. It is what life does; it seeks to express itself through us, and it seeks to express itself by the big C word: CHANGE.

The moment we see, feel, or intuit change coming is sometimes the moment of panic.  At this moment, we are at the crest of new life, the moment of unclear action. We cannot see the future, we want to remain in the present (how we want it to be), but life demands of us to move on to the “new,” no matter what that “new” might be. It is at this time that we are in what I call the Unexpected Gap. The universe is always and intently changing without resistance and moving forward. Our role is to go with it. However, we all resist change to one extent or another depending on what we believe change means. Some of us view change as something incredibly awful, and we resist it with all our strength.  Others embrace change and welcome it as the life-giving and healing source it can be in our lives. Some of us acknowledge change but continue to deny that it is happening, so we continue to live in the old season. We don’t accept it and remain stagnate. For some of us, it takes a lifetime to embrace change.

When I was an active teenager decades ago, abrupt change was cast on me as I ventured home one day and found my mother in a stroke-induced coma. Nothing could have prepared me for this moment. Nothing. It was not expected. It was not even anywhere on my radar (or anyone else’s). CHANGE (very painful change, I might add) was thrust upon me like a brick thrown at my face. It was the worst disaster that hit my family from out of nowhere.

The emotions I felt back then were so intense and confusing. I could not even ponder how I was going to get through the rest of my life without my mother. I felt angry at God and did not understand why this was happening; I felt incredible sadness (Mom was only 46.); I was confused; I felt guilty because I had gotten in a stupid fight with my mother that morning before she dropped flat-faced on the bathroom floor, and I was not able to say goodbye to her; I wanted answers but they did not come. It took two weeks for my mom to eventually die. Within those two weeks, I was in my “unexpected gap.” My life would never be the same again.

I am not alone. We all have our “unexpected gaps.” As I have learned, that space, that moment, that time between the old and the new, that unforeseen, painful, elusive gap (of whatever length of time) is the point where the release of the present meets the manifestation of the new; it is the point of no return. It is also the point at which, if not heeded and embraced, we remain stuck. It is our autumn.

Decades after the death of my mother, I finally understand what that unexpected gap wanted from me. I know why I felt the feelings I felt, too. I discovered that it is my responsibility, no matter how arduous, to see, feel, and embrace the change that comes within my gap. I know now that I felt angry and confused back then because I was afraid of “the unexpected gap:” I wanted to trust only that which was familiar and wanted to remain there. I felt sad because I did not and could not see or embrace my life without Mom; I felt guilty because I had chosen to argue with my mother that unforgettable morning instead of telling her I loved her. I lacked faith in what was to come, in the personal growth that was to occur, in the process of life.  I did not accept that Mom’s passing (for whatever mysterious reasons) was my gap.

Can anyone truly explain why anyone dies at a specific time or why things happen the way they do? The answer will always remain elusive, but I do know this: autumn comes every year whether we are prepared or not. Unexpected change will come. And, that “gap” we all experience in one form or another is a chance for release, growth and the eventual emerging of change, of new life.

Heed the gap.

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso


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Strolling to the Sounds of Grief

Washington Park, Denver, CO

Today is Thursday, March 07, 2013, and I had the long-awaited pleasure of spending this day all by myself. Today is also the anniversary of my mother’s death. She died thirty two years ago at the young age of 47. So, today, I suppose I am grieving this loss, like I do every year.

I decided to take a walk at one of my favorite Denver parks today and then spend some time at one of my best “thinking” coffee/tea shops afterwards and write. It is a beautiful, somewhat cloudy day in Denver, and I could not help but ponder what my life would have been like if my mother had not died so long ago. That day changed my life; it left a mark in me that nothing else will touch. It was not until years and years later, however, that I would realize how much of a mark it made, and what I would do with it.

But, this blog is not about that.

I truly believe the loss of a loved one or the loss of a relationship could be a very traumatic event. There is no getting around it. It happens sometimes unexpectedly (as in my case), and we are left to pick up the pieces. We are left to reconcile the missing piece that is now a gigantic void in our lives. How does one manage to do this without completely losing it or becoming depressed? What can fill that void?

Experts claim there are five stages of grief and loss:

  1. Denial and Isolation:  We do not want to accept the loss because it is too emotionally overwhelming. This is a defensive mechanism and is temporary.
  2. Anger:  Once we acknowledge what happened, we are overwhelmed with emotion. We then become angry that the loss occurred. This is normal. We might even blame others for what happened or for what we are feeling.
  3. Bargaining:  This stage of grief is when we start asking the question, “what if?” “What if I had …?” This is also a defense mechanism in hopes of averting the impending pain associated with grieving.
  4. Depression:  We now feel sadness and regret during this stage. And, we start to incorporate the reality of our loss into our lives. We might spend time alone during this stage trying to make sense of the loss.
  5. Acceptance: The last phase is marked by calm and solace but not necessarily happiness.  We have learned to accept what has happened. The goal is to reach this stage in order for healing to take place. Some of us tragically do not make it to this stage.

 

As I strolled through the park today, I noticed the lifeless, faded tree branches just waiting for their leaves to come to life with spring around the corner. These were very old trees with thick trunks and wondrous when their leaves are in full bloom. Some were poised around a small and serene lake. Some were standing tall in the distance. All of them, however, were barren and ready for a change and waiting for spring. I noticed, too, that even though they were all different, there was a “sameness” about them that made them more special to me as I walked.  I then realized the trees were like me and you when we grieve. When we grieve, we are mourning a loss; we spend our time in “winter” – in emotional and perhaps physical turmoil; we feel and are left barren like the trees in dead of winter; we experience many “storms” as we try to come to terms with our loss; we are left waiting for our “spring” to bring us back to life.

I believe for each one of us there is a different grieving process, but like the trees, we are also similar beings: we all need to release our emotions that stem from the loss we are experiencing.  If you have recently lost someone you loved, via death or the loss of a relationship, you are entitled to take the time to grieve. There is no way around grieving but to experience the process. It is also a highly personal endeavor; there is no right or wrong way to grieve.  What keeps us from healing faster and thus entering spring, is not allowing ourselves to cry, to scream, to let go of our bottled emotions. When our pain is not released, we continue to reside in “winter” and do not allow the spring to make us new. If you are stuck in winter, I encourage you to let go and let spring take over. You are worth it!

Every year of mourning the loss of my greatest influence, my mother, is different for me. Some years are more like winter and some are more like the small beginnings of spring. Today, I am finding myself in a contemplative mood thinking about what Mom meant to me and how that devastating loss has heightened my personal awareness about so many aspects of life and of how the experience has changed me. And, I feel that it is all good. I feel spring.

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso