I was just thinking about Anthony Bourdain and I noticed myself thinking, “what a loss.”

I felt that thought in my body and noticed that just didn’t feel true. And, the next thought was, “No. The truth is, what a gift.”

As I sat with this new thought in my body, it felt like truth. And so I thought I would share what arose for me in contemplative meditation around this.

Anthony Bourdain was a gift to this world. What a precious, wonderful, unique gift.

What we can easily miss, without a spotlight, is that everyone is. Every single one of us.

And, especially when someone dies young or unexpectedly, it is so common to hear the phrase – “what a loss.”

But, that is a limited perspective. It’s human, and can appear very true, but it is limited. From the perspective of Spirit, Spirit sees the Soul that has come on this beautiful and challenging journey and celebrates that Souls accomplishments.

What if we could turn our focus in the same direction? What if for everyone that transitions out of the body we could focus our attention on the gifts of knowing that unique individual: the rare combination of energy, joy, comfort, beauty, laughter, crazy, soulfulness they brought to the world, big or small? And focus much less attention on the way or when of their leaving this world.

Incidentally, big or small is another human perspective issue.

Can we ever really know what is a big or small gift? Is a person who touches millions through his work a bigger gift than a person who rescues a small bird from certain death without their loving assistance? We don’t know the immense power our thoughts and energy have to send ripples of love or pain through our immediate world and beyond. It all matters.

An analogy that came to me in this meditation, is that once a person dies, our thought of “what a loss” may be similar to the thought, “Oh, that person has so much potential.” Really, that is a projection of our own hopes or dreams for that person. But, it’s a denial of reality. A person’s potential is only an imagined outcome if that person were to take different actions from the actions they are currently taking. And that is an impossible circumstance.

We can each only take the actions that we are capable of in any given moment. We are all doing our best. Even if it doesn’t look like our best. Even when we are able to say, “Oh, I knew better than to do that… or say that.”

Because, thank goodness, life isn’t purely intellectual. We are not following a code only written by knowledge of right and wrong. We are heart and soul and body too. From what I understand, it’s a very complicated system. We do and say the best we are able to in each moment. And if we find ourselves wishing we made a different choice – that’s the place where we get to grow and learn to make choices that feel more aligned in our hearts and minds. And that may be where potential can realistically be invoked – in a personal trajectory of growth.

But, the projection of potential? That feels a bit tricky to me.

Which brings me back to the thought, “what a loss.” Very tricky. This thought causes pain. It causes you to believe that you, personally, have lost something. Which is something you can’t know. And now that’s another loss you are adding onto the immediate loss of this human you have loved. No matter how a person leaves this world, even in the case of tragedy, is it possible for us to know that they haven’t given their gifts in whole and completely? What if the very fact that they have gone from this physical world is an indication that their incarnation here was absolutely complete. And that all the gifts they gave were the gifts they came here to give. There wasn’t anything else for them to give and that is part of why they are gone.

I have a thought or suspicion now that pops into my mind (as thoughts do during meditation) that this perspective could be interpreted as cold. Especially in the case of a sudden and tragic loss, to suggest that all of this Souls gifts have been given, could be perceived as callous.

I am not suggesting here that you could say to a grieving loved one that the person they are grieving has given all their gifts and that is why they are gone. Please don’t do that.

But, if this thought helps you…

Doesn’t grief hurt enough? Just dealing with the immediate loss? And wouldn’t there be some comfort to know that this Soul was successful and gave all their gifts? I feel a warmth in my heart to hold that for my loved ones who have died.

As I sit, rolling this idea around in my body, it feels aligned with Divine LOVE to hold in my heart a reverent ceremony of celebration of completion for each person or animal that I have loved until their death. It feels compassionate and honoring of a Souls walk through life to always hold for them, “What a gift.”