Tying Up Loose Ends and Letting Go of Things
By Barbara Hildt
Let’s face it, when we’re old and have lived most of our days in this life, our time is limited. We can choose to lament our losses and things we didn’t accomplish or we can choose to appreciate all the people and experiences we have had.
Now, in my seventies, with a little regret I am accepting that there are things I had hoped to do and accomplish that I won’t be able to do. But I realize that to feel content, I need to let go of regrets, disappointments, and unfulfilled aspirations. I need to forgive myself and others for not living up to my expectations. Thinking about my failures, shortcomings, and mistakes only leads to sadness and other negative feelings. Instead, I choose to appreciate all I’ve learned from the experiences I’ve had, both positive and challenging.
Some of us have experienced major losses that caused us to totally change the focus of our lives. It felt like the bottom fell out of my life when I lost a race for Congress in 1992. But that loss turned out to be a course-correcting blessing that put me on a more fulfilling path, working with people to prevent violence, and with programs to develop peaceable youth leaders. And the hurtful infidelity of my first husband freed me to enter into a more loving relationship that endures.
It may occur to us that it’s time to tie up some loose ends before we depart. We need to ask ourselves which relationships and matters we can simply let go of and which we still need to do some work on. Then we need to decide how best to proceed.
Whether we are aware or not, we all have held onto negative thoughts and feelings about some people in our lives. These buried negative feelings might even be the partial cause of physical problems we have. Late in life, my mother learned, with help from a therapist, that pent-up anger she had never expressed may have been the cause of her arthritis.
We may feel we were let down or even betrayed by a parent, sibling, or friend many years ago and as a result those relationships were damaged and may no longer exist. If we have never been able to express our true feelings about those relationships, we may want to consider doing that even if we can’t say what we’ve felt to the individuals involved.
Whether we send them or not, writing a letter or an e-mail telling those people our truth about things that came between us, how we felt then and how we now feel, can unburden us. A reconciliation may come from writing the words “I’m sorry and I hope you can forgive me” or “I have forgiven you.”
Forgiving always benefits the one who forgives as much or more than the one who is forgiven. Forgiving allows our souls and bodies to let go of the negative thoughts and feelings we have carried that do us more harm than good. When we forgive ourselves for our shortcomings and mistakes we are liberated and free to move on with our lives, and able to feel the love energy that is available to us all.
As we look ahead to a new year and a brighter future may we all consider letting go of things we don’t need and tying up our unfinished business so that we can enjoy the days we have left.
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