Love and Connection in a Time of Loss

We’ve all experienced loss in some shape or form. It could be the loss of a dream job, a friend moving away, a health crisis, or a change in lifestyle that you didn’t plan for. The death of a loved one is a very painful experience. It’s hard to even say the word "death" in this context. The end of a life is so final, so permanent, and so irreversible. We call it a loss to soften the blow, to help ourselves or the other person feel better. The pain of such a loss – when experienced fully instead of being buried with busyness and distractions – is life-changing.

Are you willing to receive kindness from others in difficult times?
Do you have friends you can laugh with in the midst of despair?
Is it okay to feel joy during the grieving process?

This is episode 38: Love and Connection in a Time of Loss

Hello and welcome to the Incrementalist, a productivity podcast on making big changes in small steps. My name is Dyan Williams and I’m your productivity coach and host for this show.

We’ve all experienced loss in some shape or form. It could be the loss of a dream job, a friend moving away, a health crisis, or a change in lifestyle that you didn’t plan for.

The death of a loved one is a very painful experience. It’s hard to even say the word death in this context. The end of a life is so final, so permanent, and so irreversible. We call it a loss to soften the blow, to help ourselves or the other person feel better.

The pain of such a loss – when experienced fully instead of being buried with busyness and distractions – is life changing. It causes you to reflect on your life, the relationships you have, and the contributions you make.

Before you can find meaning in loss, you have to feel the emotions and allow them to just wash over you. There’s never a convenient time to do this. But to adapt, change, or evolve from the experience, you will need to make quiet space to feel. It’s okay to be not as productive, not as focused, and to drop some obligations and commitments - at least for the time being.

I’m now going through this process myself. It’s the first time I’ve experienced loss of this magnitude, and grief so profound. I’ve dropped into maintenance mode, keeping things simple and minimal. I’ve put certain Q4 plans on pause and I don’t know when I’ll get back to them. I’m not taking on major new projects that are outside my comfort zone and require extra energy and focus to get done.

I plan to keep making new episodes of this podcast as long as it’s a backburner project that doesn’t require too much creative input and mental bandwidth. I might record less frequently or record shorter episodes as I go through this rough change.

Scaling back to prioritize the essentials doesn’t mean you stop brainstorming ideas, making progress, producing things or sharing your creative output. Sharing is a way to connect with others and to build human connections.

There might be times when you will want to curl up in a ball and pull the covers over your head. This is appropriate in short, limited bursts. There’s a difference between grief and depression, between rest and avoidance, and between being a realist and a pessimist.

If you wait for the perfect moment, you might stifle the inner drive to learn and create, regardless of whether it’s for sheer joy or for your livelihood or for both. The times when you are most down are precisely when you need to indulge in creative activity. And when you experience loss and setback, sharing helps you to understand and process your emotions and perhaps at the same time, offer comfort to others. Building community and being of service are crucial to surviving, thriving and leading a life of vitality.

Grief comes in waves. One moment you’re going about your daily routine, almost forgetting about the loss. Then the next moment, you’re overwhelmed with deep sadness. You have regrets about all the hopes and wishes that didn’t come true. And you find peace knowing that many did come to fruition. That’s just how life goes. It’s not perfect.

In the midst of deep despair, you can also have true joy. You oscillate between the two. A memory can trigger mixed emotions – it can bring a smile to your face, or cause tears to fall.

“Tears fall for a reason and they are your strength not weakness.“ These were words I read when I opened Charlie Mackesy’s book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. I first read it back in April 2020 and I picked it up again earlier this week. It tells a sweet story about a lonely boy and the friends he makes in his journey home. It gives universal lessons through the calligraphy and drawings of the author and illustrator.

Here are some conversations and snippets pulled from the book:

“What do you think success is?” asked the boy. “To love,” said the mole.

“Sometimes I feel lost,” said the boy. “Me too,” said the mole, “but we love you, and love brings you home.”

"Everyone is a bit scared,” said the horse. “But we are less scared together.”

“Sometimes I worry you’ll all realize I’m ordinary,” said the boy. “Love doesn’t need you to be extraordinary,” said the mole.

“The fox never really speaks,” whispered the boy. “No. And it’s lovely he is with us,” said the horse.

When the big things feel out of control, focus on what you love right under your nose.

“I’ve realized why we are here,” whispered the boy. “For cake?” asked the mole. “To love”, said the boy,” and be loved, “said the horse.

“What do we do when our hearts hurt?” asked the boy. “We wrap them in friendship, shared tears and time, till they wake hopeful and happy again.”

Sometimes all you hear about is the hate, but there is more love in this world than you could possibly imagine.

These are just a few of the quotes and passages in this wonderful book about friendship.

In a time of loss, you can move back and forth between going inward to being outer focused. Love and connection take skill and commitment. They are among the most powerful remedies; they are keys to healing and resilience.

Your friends are there for you even when you’re not at your best or living the best version of yourself.

You don’t have to accept something you do not want, but you do need to make room for things you cannot change. Through this mindful accommodation, you can use the pain of loss to live more fully.

Thank you for bringing your presence and your positive energy. Join me again on The Incrementalist.

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© 2021 Dyan Williams