March 22, 2012

5 Truths About Loss


Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - via Wikimedia Commons

For no apparent reason, I was missing my folks this past weekend.

That’s despite the fact that it’s been almost six years since my dad died and more than eight years since my mom passed away.

Even though I’m a grown man with a family of my own, the loss of my parents still lingers and seems to sneak up on me in unexpected ways.

And during those past few years, I’ve come to realize a few truths about loss:

1. Loss Happens to Us All

During our lives, each of us will experience the pain and tragedy of loss in some way or form. It’s unavoidable. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, educated or simpleminded the simple truth is you will lose something that matters to you in this lifetime.

2. Life is Loss

No matter how wonderful your life might be, you will lose some aspect of your life that will diminish its quality. Whether it’s your health, youth, freedom, mobility, relationships, status or sense of security – some aspect of your life will decrease over time.

3. Time Doesn’t Heal All Wounds

Although this sentiment sounds good in greeting cards and pithy tweets, the idea that time alone heals all wounds is simply false. The only thing that time tends to do is dull the pain, but time in and of itself doesn’t heal the emotional wound of loss.

4. Each of Us Decides How to Respond to Loss

Despite the morose tone of this post, I do believe that it’s up to each individual to decide whether they want to be bitter or better in the aftermath of loss. Ultimately you can flounder for the meaning of your life during the season of pain or assign meaning to the pain – much the same way that an expectant mother finds meaning through the pain of childbirth or a marathon runner who finds that completing a race is worth the painful training. Coping with loss requires a conscious decision that doesn’t happen on its own.

5. Faith Helps

Coping with loss is not merely a mental exercise, loss affects your entire being – mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Ignoring that fact only prolongs the pain and slows the healing.

My faith helped me see beyond the immediate confusion and feelings of disorientation I felt that accompanied losing my parents. I don’t understand everything or have answers to every question, but I do know that my faith has helped me help others who have experienced loss.

Ironically, that’s an unintended outcome that loss doesn’t diminish – loss actually affords us the opportunity to  add comfort, support and help to those walking the path of pain.

Question: How has loss touched your life and how did you respond?  

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