About the impact of mourning on growing up

The weather is lovely right now: I am in a van with my friend, it is raining outside, and the air is carrying the rich perfume of the land, all while we have a fantastic view of the valley, caressed by the zesty spring rain. The colour of this magnificent painting is a vivid green with some touch of grey, white and brown. Earlier we had a very serious talk, an intimate one, the kind we somehow rarely choose to afford as men. And while we both are resting – he fell asleep, me listening to symphonic music, and writing this blog post, I get overwhelmed by gratitude: I am blessed with friends like him.

We check in with each other as regularly as possible. We live in different countries, and we both have busy lives. It is so refreshing to meet, to get out in nature and to have heart-to-heart talks about our lives. He had just ended a long relationship and we talked about it, we dissected it carefully and respectfully. He is doing well if you wonder: he is kind, caring and wise – he understands the world around him intuitively. It is important to have such talks. It is important to discuss it, factually, in an open manner. It is also important to mourn. And about this, I want to write in this post. This, and the unavoidable, yet manageable & delineating process of growing up.

When I talk about growing up, I don’t talk about the process that is happening to teenagers & young adults. Respectfully: that process spiced with pimples, intensely changing bodies, voice mutations and Adam’s apples, hormonal imbalances and a lot of drama has enough attention already. I am talking about the other one: the silent one, the grieving one, the constant one. The growing-up process is directly linked to change: adapting to new situations – a new relationship, ending of a relationship, death of a parent, buying a house, mortgage, new job, getting fired, career change, child arrival and so on – to new environments & setup. The one about which nobody told me anything when I was younger.

This growing up is fantastic & majestic at the same time. It will end with your death, but until that humbling moment you have the chance to explore, experience, grow, thrive, and become wiser and smarter as your days go by – and with your experience, you can (and you will) support others do the same: grow up with grace. With every bruise, every grey hair, every wrinkle, loosened muscle, and floppy body part comes the brilliance of wisdom: the space where experience meets knowledge, humbleness meets ownership of skills, competencies and genius of trial & error. In this process, which extends to cover most of your conscious life, you find the real purpose of life. A life to be lived, a life to serve the growth and thriving of other lives. A way of living that only makes sense retrospectively: right before your death, right before the last breath of yours.

In order to be able to grow, however, one has to learn to mourn. Mourning is the process of accepting something that there was: and isn’t anymore. It is a tricky process, for everyone, also for men. We tend to resist this thing called acceptance. We tend to think, that is our fault that something that it was isn’t anymore. That somehow we are responsible for the only constant in life: change.

Mourning is challenging if you have a Western European cultural background. It doesn’t make it easier whether you are religious or not. It doesn’t make it easier the overwhelming fixation on individuality and the urge to be seen, accepted & appreciated. Mourning is a tough reality check, that is there to do many things for you.

It is there to humble you. In the process of mourning, you become accountable. You realise that you did things that you shouldn’t have to and you didn’t do things you should have. You realise that you have your part in this story, which ends now in mourning. This humbling process is also there to help to you let go: it is, what it is, it was, as it was and all is all right. What matters is what comes next. Life flows forward.

It is there to enable you. With humbling, with letting go you will be able to see what is there around you that you can use for your next step. It can be in you, around you, or given to you. Just knowing what to choose from gives a boost to mourning: it will have a purpose, a finite point, from which you will know that you are not mourning anymore. What has happened: happened. I am now able to choose my next step.

It is there to liberate you. Once you are humbled, you let go, and you realise you are able to act: you become free. You paid the price: you felt the pain of growth, of the lack of safety and certainty that the person or thing that you lost offered to you. You were crying, you were tormenting yourself, or simply you allowed yourself to be melancholic for an extended amount of time. And there comes one morning, when you open your eyes, look around you, look out on your window and you see the beauty and the opportunity of life all around you, without experiencing the obstacles of mourning. Through my pain I become free.

It is there to stimulate you. It gives you a boost that you remember now, but you didn’t know you were missing. While mourning you are resting. You are like the flowers under a thick layer of snow, dead leaves and dirt: you are waiting for the opportunity to grow, to spread your leaves and petals into the world again. Mourning is a strong sign that this thing will happen soon. Change offers space to grow.

It is there to heal you. In the process of mourning, you allow yourself to heal from the shock & trauma of the loss. Change affects us. Sometimes in a good way, and other times in a bad way. Mourning has to happen, so there is space in us for the new (people, places, processes) emerging slowly already on the horizon. If you don’t allow yourself to heal properly, you will abuse your opportunities and agents of change and growth. And violence gives birth to more violence. This is why wise people know to respect the mourning of another person. Through grief, I become whole again.

It is there as an invitation to thrive. As you can not be happy without allowing yourself to be sad at times, you can not thrive if you do not mourn. The death of something creates space for something else to be born. As life flows forward, abundance blesses this flow.

You can mourn the end of anything: the existence of a person, of course, but also a relationship, a job, a skill or a feature of yours that is not available anymore (your hair, your flexibility, your memory, your teeth). You should remember that as with everything: mourning has an expiration date.

Growing up comes with a lot of perks and opportunities. One thing is true, for us, humans: we like change until is comfortable. Yet growing up is change itself in your body, in your life. And the only constant is change. Please give space for it in your life, and make sure that you share your process with people you find valuable and loving in your life. They deserve to know, where are you standing and you deserve to stay connected in your challenging moments. I am grateful for my friend and that he has many good people who help him verbalise things that are important to be shared out loud.

We have created a program, that touches on subjects like mourning & growing up: it is called Thrive online retreat, and now the registrations for the program are open!

What is Thrive? I invite you to read more about it on our website or read the Info letter of the program, but in short it is a 6-week long online experience-based exploratory retreat with a focus on state management and an empowering life-friendly mindset. We designed it in a way that we meet online, yet it has a real impact on your everyday context – it contains a lot of fun challenges, guided meditations, and tasks that enable you to understand more, grow more and gain more perspective.

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