Monday, March 19, 2012

Learning from Loss - the changing weather...

It may be ironic to talk about loss as we make way for spring. Spring rites are now playing out around the world. We Hindus just celebrated our festival of colors, Holi, and uncannily the warm weather (global warming or not) thaws out our bones and makes us flex our wares. Like buds sprouting we suffer from an eternal loss of memory of wintry mornings, and become surprisingly present to nature's change. Other loss in life we carry like an old overcoat, torn and tattered, out of the habit formed of attachment. My 22 year old was just watching 'Harold and Maude' for the first time. I remember enjoying watching it in my 20s. I smile at the attitude Maude has to 'attachment' even though she clearly has an issue with it. She seeks to teach others not to be attached to anything, while she clings for dear life to the idea of letting go as she nears 80 years of age... knowing she will soon have to give up the body in which she has lived them.

I work with clients everyday who have encountered difficulty with loss of all kinds, personal, financial, career, business, sexual, life and limb etc. It appears to me that most litigation is a forum to deal with loss that is difficult to overcome without reengaging the adverse party. If I succeed at litigation, it is mostly because I know so much about loss...and how to recover from it. The experience of loss can engender many different reactions: 1. shock - leading to a kind of repetition compulsion (where one needs to replay, or sometimes worse, reexperience the act of losing similar things in order to process the loss); 2. anger - leading to a situation where someone, sometimes anyone, must be blamed and must pay for the loss ... a kind of negative pay it forward (if I have paid, others must too, which is just a different kind of repetition compulsion; a sharing of loss with others even though it is hard to see it that way); 3. desperation - we all have difficulty dealing with people who have stepped over the edge of any kind of equilibrium in response to their loss. They are unpredictable, angry, blaming, sad, but very close to giving up any hope that they can recover, if not the thing lost, at least their own equilibrium; 4. depression - when there is no satisfaction and much has been tried, people will succumb to the pain of loss turning inwards(depending on various internal resources, a person's resilience will be determined here.)

Loss, like all transition, is as much a part of life as the changing weather. Yet I am caught here because I know the feeling. The loss of control. The inability to change the weather. The inability sometimes simply not to get what you want. Last year, my mother underwent a series of operations to save her life and remove a dangerous growth inside her brain. She came through with much ado... needing time for her recovery; however the recovery is not quite as I had hoped and I know that sooner or later (having an inner sense of how long I have) I must get used to the idea that I will have to let go. There is not much, including my own life, I would not give up... I know what she wants and has always wanted for me, the things she would forbid me to give up as much as I would want to, because she worked hard to get me here. She is a trooper and she is doing her best under the excruciatingly difficult circumstances of her life to battle, never complaining as is her way. A doer and leader, not a follower or procrastinator... her strength in the face of fire and nails is painful to experience at times.

There is nothing one can do but admire the spirit and pray and worship all that she is. And so cheeks wet with the surrender required to honor her spirit, body, heart and mind, I attempt to follow in the footsteps of her strength. Those footsteps beckon my calling to my clients all over the world, to ease their discomfort and provide hope of recovery. As melodramatic as the ubiquity of loss may sound, I believe completely that its experience leaves most of us retriggered fundamentally in aspects and ways that have not been studied, possibly critically undermining our ability for productive engagement with systemic solutions. As such, I do find myself providing support of a therapeutic nature through the law that is at times desperately needed. There is no doubt in my mind that even in cases where recovery of the object of loss is not possible (personal loss for instance), recovery of one's equilibrium is still possible and should be sought:) Legal engagement starts to help with this process.