Learning to Live: What’s Your Story? is a collaborative partnership between several Penn State units and Centre County community organizations and businesses. Our goal is to encourage individuals to share their stories of how they learned to live with loss.
The pattern of birth, loss, birth, loss, plays out all around us. It begins at our own birth – we lose a quiet comfortable environment where we’re continually fed, supplied with oxygen and kept at a comfortable temperature – and continues from there. You can see it in the hours of the day; each day begins and then ends. And you can see it in nature: we have the season of spring with new life and growth, summer with fullness and heat, fall with harvesting and letting go and winter with stillness and waiting.
Some of the losses are small and easy to release. Others are huge and life changing. How we live with the small losses can help prepare us for the bigger ones. As Dr. Nancy Copeland-Payton said, “When we intentionally enter into our everyday walk through small losses, understanding their layers and how often we experience them, the terrain of larger loss is not completely unknown.”
The natural reaction to loss is grief. Regardless of the size of loss, if we are to continue on, we learn to grieve and live through it. If you allow yourself to journey through it, growth and transformation can occur. As Wayne Muller said, “When we come close to those things that break us down, we touch those things that also break us open.”
In our loss-avoidant culture, however, we have few productive conversations about how we’ve done that. Learning to Live: What’s Your Story? is an initiative to change that.