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There is a sadness that accompanies major personal loss, and it’s tough to shake.

I find that it sucks the energy right out of me, making it challenging to write, or to think in an upbeat, creative way. The sadness that accompanies the loss of things we most love never leaves us. Thus, I take comfort in the wisdom found in many sources over the ages that there is a time for everything under the heavens, including a time to be at rest.

There’s also a time to be tired of being tired, restless with the recovery period of loss. For me, the best path back to the energy of the soul is to be aware of, and to celebrate what I have in my life, rather than to linger in thought of what is no longer there. I am surrounded by sources of joy for which I am grateful, and when I give them my focus, they can light the way back to equilibrium.

Those sources include a husband that loves me beyond my ability to comprehend, a garden that is in bloom with multiple colors every day, and good friends who would grieve my passing. Being thankful for everything that surrounds me, including the sound of my soulmate snoring, and the smile that comes on his face when he sees me, helps me climb the ladder back to the time that is for laughter and dance.

Gratitude is the key that unlocks the door, gratitude for what I was fortunate enough to have, and gratitude for what I can still touch. As we age, it becomes clearer that letting go is the price of living, and we pay our dues with increased frequency. We can fight it or accept it, but it happens nevertheless.

All of us who are in loving relationships, dread the thought of our beloved dying before we do. I fear the loss of Ray and he fears the loss of me. My younger brother has made it clear that he needs to precede me in death, as the anticipated loss feels to great to bear. I feel the same.

We’re in control, though, of how we manage the feelings that accompany letting go. It’s foolish not to accept that there is a contract we sign with our hearts when we choose to love something or someone at the deepest level of our being, and that if we lose it, we will be called to grieve to the same degree to which we loved. But, at some point, we can make the choice to acknowledge the blessing of intimacy we had, and still have, and to let go of the jet stream in which we’ve lingered.

As Cat Stevens’ song goes, “And if you want to be high, be high, and if you want to be low, be low, ‘cause there’s are a million ways to go, you know that there are.”

Brian McNaught has been an author and educator on LGBTQ issues since 1974. Former Congressman Barney Frank said of Brian, “No one has done a better job of chronicling what it’s like to grow up gay."