I woke up crying three days in a roll, but I can only remember the last dream I had – it was when someone dismantled all the plants in my backyard. For a few moments, the despair in my heart killed my soul, until I became aware that it was only a dream.

When I was recalling my dream, my daughter observed, “I believe this is the grief of losses. Maybe because you have not processed the losses in your life.”

Upon reflection, first I realized that some losses in my life are irreversible; for this type of loss, nothing and no one can soothe the grief and pain for a period of time. However, I also realized that their hold does not have to be permanent; if you let it – if you have clarity about what this does to you and you will realize that other options are available other than the path currently you’re on, you can pivot your life to a new direction.

Some of my losses are not direct experiences. For instance, my grandfather’s execution was witnessed by my mother when she was 13 years old and when the communist party took over China. I felt the grief and pain in my mother’s voice and body when the story was told by my mother and when I was in 6th grade. This event set the backdrop of my mother’s life and she lived it accordingly; in turn, looking back, that loss changed my life at a fundamental level as well.

On one hand, I can see the permanence of the negative impact of losses in our lives; on the other, truthfully, are any of losses absolutely negative though?

Some of my losses seemed devastating and fatal at the time but they changed the course of my life positively in the long run. For example, my divorce 7 years ago was traumatic and I experienced tremendous loss in many ways, but meantime I have grown in countless dimensions. Sometimes I wish this happened long before the real event.

The loss of my old identities was definitely a good thing. For example, after I gradually embraced my daughter as an independent person after she was 22 years old, without intermingling my fear and ego in the equation, I found a gentler, tenderer, and more loving mother within me that I never thought I could be. The loss of my old identity as an authoritarian parent injected refreshing energy in our relationship and I discovered my authentic function in my daughter’s life.

Some of my losses were seemly insignificant at the time but they changed the path of my life for good. When I was 7 years old, one day I had a sudden premonition: my mother was going to die young – this came in my head like a thunder. I didn’t tell anyone because I was so scared for my mother, when I realized she would never see us children growing up. She did die before her 50’s birthday and at the time we were still children. As a hindsight the fact that she never witnessed me giving birth to my daughter forever changed my life, and in turn my daughter’s life.