Symbolic Meaning of Death and Loss



Interpreting the Symbolic Meaning of Death and Loss for Healthy Life Transitions

Loss, death, removal. Experiencing these things is a fact of life. We all are touched by having lost something in our lives. Removal of material objects, saying goodbye to our kids when they go off to college, the death of a loved one, loss of health or wealth...loss comes in many different forms, and none of us are exempt from it. This post is an invitation to take a look at these often disheartening subjects in a symbolic way. Why? Because often when we experience a removal of someone or something in our lives, it brings a symbolic message which may behoove us to heed.

Most of us, (self included) tend to interpret loss as a negative experience. There are exceptions of course....we could celebrate getting rid of an unwanted influence in our lives. But in terms of losing someone or something we value, loss can be a potentially devastating circumstance.

Seeing loss with a symbolic perspective can buffer the blow of loss a bit, and give us an angle in which we can see a positive light in the midst of our longing or grieving for what we've lost. To prove this point, consider some of these symbolic meanings of loss listed below.

Symbolic Meanings Associated with Loss/Death

  • Opening
  • Renewal
  • Rebirth
  • Clearing
  • Cleansing
  • Mobility
  • Shifting
  • Resetting
  • Transition
  • Opportunity
  • Possibilities

What if loss, as painful as it may be, were nothing more than an opening into which new energy can flow? If we interpret loss in the language of symbolism, loss might translate to something that simply says: "My life is currently making room (space) for something different."

I'm not suggesting that we refute or minimize the grief associated with loss. We can't lose something of value and brush it off with a flippant statement like "oh well, out with the old, in with the new." On the contrary...experiencing loss or death is symbolic of transition. As such, we must sit in the midst of that (often uncomfortable) transition for a time in order to see our circumstances with clarity.

This brings me to an important point about the symbolic meaning of death and loss. Its meaning goes hand-in-hand with time. Time is an undulating thing, with ups-and-downs. Experiencing a removal of someone or something valuable in our lives takes place at inexplicable times, and we've got to be flexible to move in harmony with the waves of time to better adapt to the changes our loss has wrought in our lives.

Although we may not be able to understand the timing of our loss, it's my opinion that the timing of these events is perfect, and divinely choreographed. Just as a seasoned author knows the right time to end one chapter, and start a new one, there is a universal energy that orchestrates the ebb and flow in the timing of our lives. Suffice to say, time is married to loss, and often it takes days, months or years for us to interpret something like opportunity or renewal as a symbolic message spoken from our loss.

It's been said that "nature abhors a vacuum", and all that really means in terms of physical science is that matter (particularly gasses) will move in a space with less matter. This initially made perfect sense to me, and seemed a fabulous frame work in writing this article on the symbolic meaning of death and loss. To wit, consider forest fires...the land is barren initially, but nature works double-time, and new growth forms to fill the void of the forest with remarkable speed.

Consider water....it's a great analogy, because water is symbolic of cleansing and purification. When water moves, it moves to fill a void. A stream for example, moves where there is an opening, or lack of resistance and fills the crevices of the landscape. The same principle works in our lives. Where there is a gap, there also exists an energy that moves to fill our own emptiness.

What had me stumped about the "nature abhors a vacuum" quote (attributed to Descartes, Aristotle, Wm. Blake and others) is the existence of vacuums in our cosmos that are purposeful, and remain empty for forever as far as science can tell. Further, scientists have deduced that our universe is comprised primarily of empty space. There is (seemingly) nothing rushing to fill the 80'ish percent of emptiness in the heavens. I suppose 'dark matter' could be filling the void of space, but that element is dense in its intangibility, and still suggests vast spans of vacuous space.

Herein lies another valuable symbolic lesson of loss. Perhaps loss and death carry a symbolic message of acceptance. What if, when we experience loss, instead of reacting negatively, we merely sit with the loss, as if we are sitting in an empty space - and contemplate it from a place of no-thought. Often, when we suspend our minds, and get in a place of no-thought, amazing transformations take place which allow us to view our circumstances with a wiser, more illuminated view. That said, sitting in the middle of our loss is hard! I know. None of us want to come to terms with losing that which we hold dear, much less center ourselves in the sensation of loss to experience it full-force on purpose! Nevertheless, doing this (at least in my experience) has offered revolutionary perceptions about the idea of loss.

Lastly, as a suggestion for comfort in our time of loss, I'd like to remind you that nothing is ever really gone in this universe. Energy never dies, it is only converted. That's a pretty awesome and inspiring concept, if we think about it. It's really only our perception of reality that identifies a thing or person as "gone". In truth, the universe operates via a magnificent recycling system. For example, if a tree dies, it decomposes, and that tree is converted into useable energy for the soil, other plants, insects, etc.

Summarizing the Symbolism of Death and Loss

  • Consider loss as an opening, clearing or a cleansing of energy to make way for new energy.

  • Loss is married to time. Pay attention to the phases of life surrounding loss, and consider the idea that gain or renewal is a natural upswing in the undulations of time.

  • Nature abhors a vacuum. Just as water moves to fill a void, so too will new energy move to fill yours.

  • Sometimes we must sit in the void - be at peace with it. Conscious surrender to loss (or the void) can be emotionally liberating. This alone can shift our energy to the point where our expansion allows remarkable opportunities to step into our lives.

  • Nothing is ever really 'gone'. Energy cannot be destroyed, only converted. Consider loss as a process of recycling from one form into another.

I hope these thoughts on the symbolic meaning of death and loss offer you some comfort in your time of need. These ideas come from personal experience, as I've put these practices to work during my own transitions through loss. The results, I feel, were beneficial enough to share with you. It's my sincerest desire that you may find value and/or healing from this article.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with others. And don't miss the links at the end of this page for more tips on interpreting symbolic meanings for life-enhancement.

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An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings

Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.

This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."

Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)

As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!



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