Understanding Impermanence: Even loss is temporary!

“Friends are never truly lost.  Sometimes they ebb and flow into and from our lives, however, never lost.”  Evelyn Prieto

I wanted to share with you all a recent tender moment in counseling.   My client a young, beautiful woman was telling me a story of how she learned that “nothing was permanent”  after losing a friend.  She said her life was never the same, never wanting to get close to anything lest she loses it.  This struck me as very sad indeed as connecting and getting close makes life worth living.

“Finding the soul and connecting with other souls, even spirits can have a powerful comforting effect on those who suffer deeply.”  Coyote Medicine, Lewis Mehl-Madrona

But I have lost friends before and I know the pain. I allowed her time to cry and to feel her loss fully,  (You are Allow to Feel!)  before I said, “The bad news is, ‘Nothing is permanent.’ ”

I paused and said, “The good news is, ‘Nothing is permanent.’ ”

weeping buddha tratak meditations
Click to get a weeping Buddha like mine.

She looked at me quizzically, but I gave it a moment to sink in before answering her curiosity.  “Even pain and sadness pass.”

Understanding Impermanence

Even loss is impermanent.  How could we think we lost something forever if we can’t even understand the term “forever” with our puny human brain?

Often people are confused by the word attachment as used in Buddhism.  They don’t want to detach since they feel like this means disconnecting to something they love or having to accept a loss.  But this is not correct.   Detachment does not mean to disconnect, but to be deeply connected.

guided meditations
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“[A]ccording to the Buddhist point of view, nonattachment is exactly the opposite of separation. You need two things in order to have attachment: the thing you’re attaching to, and the person who’s attaching. In nonattachment, on the other hand, there’s unity. There’s unity because there’s nothing to attach to. If you have unified with the whole universe, there’s nothing outside of you, so the notion of attachment becomes absurd. Who will attach to what?”  Zen teacher John Daido Loori


How can you lose a friend if you and that friend are one?  Physically,  you may not be speaking but the story is not over yet.  Our story won’t be over for a long, long time.  We can still connect and be one, love them from a distance, love ourselves.  Connection raises consciousness, attachment lowers it.  Attachment involves fear of loss and judgment over that fear.

When we feel loss, we are just learning a new way of being connected. Disconnecting from a story that isn’t working so a new story can be created.  Our stories can and are changing constantly.  We can reinvent ourselves every day. Anxiety is different every day. Something is new in us, and since we are connected to all, new for all.  Remember though, time is irrelevant and this newness will reveal itself sooner or later but it doesn’t matter how long, it is not lost.  Time seems to be where we suffer.  Connection is in the present moment. We and our losses are already new.

Pain and joy are two sides of the same coin. We cannot know one without the other. We can only understand the pain in that it is not joy.

“Sometimes things in life start simple, then go through great complexities and then come out the other side simple again.”  Me

Tell me, what losses have you endured?

15 thoughts on “Understanding Impermanence: Even loss is temporary!”

  1. The story is never over. Love keeps it alive, whether it stays the same or turn into anger and guilt. I am sure it’s never over because the moment of life that we shared will never die however one can try and kill it. I do keep those moments with me, learning for the bad ones and cherishing the good ones. Memories and dreams can bring some peace and hope. Dreaming, always dreaming, not of a better life, not of change, but of getting closer to Love.

  2. Although feeling as though I lost my entire childhood I am working now to get back the innocence, joy, carefree and unconditional Love that children so naturally express. I have felt stuck in the pain I have had my entire life but am learning of the impermanence of that as well and knowing that time has nothing to do with healing! Thank you Jodi for this wonderful blog!

      1. I read the story of the woman losing a friend and being reluctant to get close to anyone fearing she would lose them. Is that the part you are referring to or was there another intro I missed? I loved that opening with her because I can relate to not feeling connected to anything. Wanting it but not wanting it for fear of losing it.

        1. I also can relate Stanley.I guess this is part of the reasons why i never had any friend until 2008. Even then, i was getting close to ,y friend and fearing she would leave always. She knew that and was constantly telling me she is different, she is here to stay, she loves me too much to leave, and then suddenly, with absolutely no reason I know, I’m stabbed in the back. I don’t blame her. I have only learned few months ago that i need to learn and connect with my online friends even if still scared.
          The worst part in that, is that i have built a wall separating me from my children out of fear of losing them, but mainly to protect them from being hurt when i will leave.

  3. Jodi, understanding impermanence really is important for balancing emotional well-being. Glad I found your blog. I write lots about what I ‘subconsciously’ feel based on my experiences, but without referring to other supporting evidences. This should be a great place to connect with for that.
    RYCJ recently posted..Proofing! Perception? Pet + PeevesMy Profile

  4. I have always wanted to clutch my friends tight to my chest, but have realized, you can’t hold onto them that way. Some dear friends have gone out of my life – drifted, left abruptly, and others have come in, and old friends have come back. Beginning to learn that you can’t freeze relationships, love or friendship, or anything else, things flow, change, grow, shrink – and this is okay.

    I have this friend who told me he was always sad when things were going well, because it couldn’t last. It’s true, it can’t – but why borrow trouble? Why not enjoy the moment that is, instead of grieving a loss that hasn’t even happened yet?
    Beverly Diehl recently posted..THRIVING After Childhood Sexual Abuse One Size Doesn’t Fit AllMy Profile

  5. When I was younger I hated losing and giving up on people for the same reasons, but later, I had to accept people come and go and I come and go. Some are in my life for the long haul, and others for only a moment. It’s still hard on me to let people go, because sometimes I am just not ready. I hold on to the moments in a friendship, always. The world is small and if it’s meant to be, I will find them again and if not, I had those moments.
    Brenda recently posted..What’s In a StoryMy Profile

  6. Corinne Rodrigues

    I’ve learned this too, Jodi and I’m glad I did…It makes life so much easier and more meaningful. I must say that it is a lesson that constantly needs to be re-learned.

  7. That’s an interesting perspective — I’ll have to think about that more. I’m admittedly not an expert on Buddhism, but I too had that mistaken understanding of nonattachment. Unity, on the other hand, sounds very appealing.

  8. I’ve had friends come and go in my life and I always feel like even after they’re gone, they’re still with me. They were meant to be in my life at that time and place, and the things they taught me will stay with me forever.
    Kelly Hashway recently posted..Tag, I’m it!My Profile

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