Everything Belongs — Cultivating Acceptance

Leigh Harris MS, LPC, NCC, CCTP • Contact Leigh

relatecounseling.com  @relatecounsel

We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder. We always have the choice.” — Dalai Lama

It’s hard to open up to the pain of loss. We want to turn away from it, numb it, fix it, deny it, blame someone or something. We have this illusion that life should be perfect and easy. It’s not. Loss is universal, while our response to it, our grief, is very individual and personal. We are on our very own journey of grief, and it’s different from anyone else’s. Lean into it. Open up to it. Express and share your pain, through tears, words, music, creating, connecting. By honoring and accepting our loss and our pain, it will teach us valuable lessons. It is here, in the midst of pain and suffering, that healing and transformation can take place if we can stop running from it.

“Everything Belongs” was my husband Ted’s mantra. He kept this note on his desk at work, to help him make peace with the difficult things. After his death, I keep this note on my bedside table. It helps me to accept his death, to make peace with it, and to try to use it for good. Acceptance doesn’t mean approval or agreement.  It just means forgiving reality, others and ourselves, for us. A few months after his death, someone said to me “It shouldn’t have happened.” Well, it did. And if I stay in that place, I become full of dissatisfaction, anger, resentment, bitterness, despair. While those emotions are valid and real, I want to help them move through me. Whatever we exercise gets stronger. Opening up to the pain of life helps me to open up to the beauty of it. That’s the gift of grief.

As Dr. Edith Eger, a survivor of the Holocaust reflects in “The Choice: Embrace the Possible”:

“The choice to accept myself as I am: human, imperfect. And the choice to be responsible for my own happiness. To forgive my flaws and reclaim my innocence … To be useful, to be used up, to survive and to thrive so I can use every moment to make the world a better place. And to finally, finally stop running from the past. To do everything possible to redeem it, and then let it go. I can make the choice that all of us can make. I can’t ever change the past. But there is a life I can save: It is mine. The one I am living right now, this precious moment. can teach me about how to live — that I was victimized but I’m not a victim, that I was hurt but not broken, that the soul never dies, that meaning and purpose can come from deep in the heart of what hurts us the most … Thank you for life, and for the ability to finally accept the life that is.”

Wishing you peace and acceptance,


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