Turn around and there is news of loss: Carol’s husband has been diagnosed with cancer, Mary Jane’s mom passed away at 97 after a year in and out of hospice. Or we get a diagnosis of one or another of the chronic health challenges like losing one’s hearing, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, foot aches and pains and often worse. Thankfully we are on average healthier at our age than previous generations, but we are not forever young. We are starting to wear out too, despite being committed to regular exercise and eating right. Fabulous women are if nothing else, committed to healthy living and moderation in all things. But even though we are often practicing yoga in record numbers – loss is just a more frequent development in our lives and is testing our ability to stay fabulous.
Is there a fabulous way to deal with loss? How do you still care about things like looking your best, keeping up with old friends, sharing fun events political or spiritual with folks you agree with, spending time with grandchildren or keeping up with work commitments? All that and STILL keep balanced in the face of loss which is not just appearing more frequently, but turning out to be more serious than ever?
A few weeks ago I heard some personal loss news that threw me. The day after I heard it, I was in Phoenix supposedly having a fun “mini vacation”. While looking at art, a wave of sadness hit me and I sat down on a bench in the middle of the art walk area and started to cry – and worse, did the sniveling thing – nose running and grabbing for tissues that I didn’t have. Why fabulous sisters is “having tissues at all times” on our list of must haves – and yet when we really need them we changed bags and do not have any? But I digress. Thankfully my wails took place in Phoenix (only partially kidding here) – which has enough shallow people that seeing a grown woman cry can be chalked up to a bad hair day or manicure gone wrong. Certainly no one stopped to comfort me (thank God).
As quickly as I started wailing, I stopped wailing and went back to being semi-pulled together. But I kept thinking about how I was handling the latest in a line of losses in my life. Could I handle them more “fabulously”? Should I call lots of friends to discuss what’s up? Or perhaps sit with my news, and then integrate it into my life before telling others as time, occasion, or desire arose? How should I accept the loss into my life and proceed to place it in the right framework while maintaining and also moving forward? How do I make sure that I am not defined by any given single loss or new life condition?
Here’s some of what I am still learning about navigating loss while staying fabulous:
- Once again less is more. Sharing in moderation over time rather than having a phonathon soon after hearing some hard news makes more sense. Re-telling a sad tale multiple times in one day doesn’t help the process of regaining balance.
- Expect little from those you tell your troubles to. Not because they do not love you – or do not wish they could wave the fairy wand and make it go away, but because you respect that everyone is in the same boat – and maybe, MORE so. Your friend’s, family member’s boat may be sinking faster than yours and you just weren’t aware.
- Tell people clearly you don’t expect more than an open heart and ear – but really appreciate their listening – and praying for you, or thinking of you and sending good vibrations in the universe as fits THEIR style and/or faith.
- Treat yourself “like a princess” at least once a day especially in tough times – and know this is the best thing you can do for everyone. The better you take care of yourself, the better you manage your emotions, the better you heal yourself, the more those you love will be able to give you the love you need.
- Being too needy is an absolute turn off in 2016. It always has been dreaded – but now, people can block and defriend you and otherwise keep you away in semi dramatic fashion. Which because there is so much over-communicating can seem more hurtful than it really is. Check excessive neediness at the door.
Didn’t we always agree being fabulousover60 was hard work – not only often expensive? If you ever doubted that, think about sharing some tough news that just came your way – are you wailing or rejecting your fate, or comforting yourself? Sharing with the right friends and family; or, spilling your sad tales on any who will listen or pretend to? Fabulous is as fabulous does. Fabulous adult friendship isn’t about sharing bad news with others and expecting an audience who is sympathetic and totally supportive of you being in a heap. Rather it is being empathetic and also helping one another see light in our darkest hours, and supporting our own and our friends’ moves toward composure, peace, calm, positive action and self-responsibility.
Thanks to my close friends who were fabulous helping me deal with loss. Oh, and don’t anyone skip your manicure – it is medicine for you in your loss, and helpful to those who love you and want nothing more than for you to be as OK as you can be – given all of our inevitable losses.
Caveat: I am not a Luddite – but for all of you who share life, death, accidents, work travails, and other personal issues via social media, I don’t want to judge, but NO WAY for me. Putting out a loss on social media doesn’t quite seem fabulous to me. I find it too public, not serious while too narcissistic or dramatic, and too detached for me to share loss without direct conversation. Sharing tough news one to one implies that the hearer is special to us and considered part of our true circle of intimates. To me, honoring is a core feature of being and acting fabulous.
The exception is using a way to share information about someone ill who has an enormous network of family, friends, colleagues or classmates which makes sharing one to one impractical. This can and is done through online services designed to making the sharing appropriate and confidential to those needing to be “in the loop”.