I was missing my parents a lot this past weekend.
That’s despite the fact that it’s been more than six years since my dad died and nearly nine 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.
However, during these past several years, I’ve come to realize a few facts 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 during your 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. No one is exempt from tragedy.
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 wounds that come from 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.
Faith helps provide a perspective on the loss that can help make the unavoidable erosions of life bearable. I find comfort in the following passage written by the apostle Paul:
“…What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” Philippians 3:8
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 always diminish – loss actually affords us the opportunity to add comfort, support and help to those walking the path of pain.
Question: How have you responded to loss in your own life or loss of a loved one?