Stick with me though, I promise the take away is worth it.
So, my daughter says to me during her process of preparing to become the proud owner of her very own pet fish, “Mom, I’m not going to name my fish because if it dies then I won’t be sad.”
To which I respond thoughtfully, “well darling, its ok if you don’t want to give your fish a name but know that no matter how you try to prepare, when you have cared for and invested in something and it dies you will feel sad. So try to allow yourself to experience the excitement, joy and love for your new fish as fully as you can.”
A week later, when we found Set Fire (she was always going to name it) had died, I sat with her in her heartbreak and held her as she cried.
Some time during her process she said, “Mom, I know what I have to do next time. I have to pick a fish I don’t really like. That way if that one dies I won’t feel as sad.”
Again, I gently reminded her that whatever form it takes, dress rehearsing tragedy will never mitigate the loss we feel when it inevitably comes. All it will do is inhibit us from fully experiencing love and joy in the mean time.
We went the same day to pick out a new fish. She chose the one she loved best and it had a name before we ever left the store, Angel Light.
And with that, my beautiful brave little girl has again allowed herself to leaned into joy, excitement and love.
So, the next time you catch yourself preparing for the worst and dress rehearsing your own tragedies, remember a little girl and her fish who remind us all to lean into joy and embrace love with our full heart.
Because it’s that love that will be our saving grace when loss inevitably comes.
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