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5 Facts About Loss

Photo Credit: Creative Commons – FlatSwitch

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?   

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  1. For me, my most recent loss was having my little girl diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis…. the loss? A great deal of feeling safe, having a “normal” life… I totally agree that loss and hardship are amazing opportunities for character building and understanding and insight into other people’s lives.. sorry about your parents, thank you for sharing!

  2. There are many kinds of loss. Having a parent die is unfortunate- it can be tragic, but it is within the seams of life. Seeing a friend die is generally the same. But having a child die is not the norm- and tends to be felt and viewed in completely different light.
    Faith helps and heals- as does a loving family.

  3. Loss is painful for those left on the earth to continue on without them. I have been fortunate enough to only suffer loss and know the person is rejoicing with God above. So in that sense I have peace. I don’t know how those without faith deal with loss.

  4. yes loss in always painful. but good to see speedy recovery of japan after tsunami that is really commendable…….

  5. Great piece, Tor. One that comes, at least for me, at a propitious moment.
    Thanks for helping to put all this in perspective.

  6. I just try to remember that others have been through or will go through something very similar…

    1. They are there for me to turn to for support and help.

    2. My tragedy will become another’s strength we I am able to be the support and help.

    Peace, Paul

  7. Great thoughts, Tor. I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was a teenager. That was 21 years ago. Things will still trigger memories of her. I’ve learned over the years that you never fully get over the loss of a loved one. I don’t think God ever intended for us to get over it. Yes, we heal and we experience joy again but that loss becomes a part of us. That loss still shapes me and grows me today. I treasure that. God still finds a way to teach me things and grow me because of the pain of that loss in my life.

  8. Bonnie Anderson says:

    This is a wonderful encouragement for people facing loss, Tor. I love your closing on how it affords us the opportunity to walk with others. That’s a great point, and how the scriptures comfort us as well. I remember after my grandmother died feeling pretty numb. She had lived near or with us for a great part of my life, but in the end she suffered with dimensia and it was difficult. Two years later when the seniors at church did a musical program, I broke down and finally grieved for the woman I had known all my life, the difficulties of the end of her life finally faded behind the years of memories of the wonderful woman I loved. I am so thankful for that moment. I know you must be longing to show your precious new son to your parents. They must have been amazing people.

  9. Tor, faith is what has gotten me through all sorts of loss–my parents, my 25 year old son and my divorce. And you are so right that time doesn’t heal our wounds, but we have a hymn that says that earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal. So I look upward. Thanks for the message.

  10. Great post, Tor!

    I’ve responded to different losses differently. When I was very young, my parents took me to the funeral of a beloved neighbor. I touched his cold brow. Death didn’t frighten me, per se, but the coldness of his corpse left an indelible impression on my four year-old self.

    Later on, I lost a grandmother to cancer, but we weren’t allowed to go to the funeral (we lived in Arizona, and she passed in Pennsylvania). Looking back, it was a tough financial time for our family, and so despite wanting to go to her funeral, I wasn’t allowed (I didn’t know at the time that money was the issue). This death began the unraveling of my own family. My dad, not having a walk with Jesus–indeed not even believing in God–took the loss of his mother very hard, and didn’t something monumentally inappropriate in light of it. Life conspired against him, and he just didn’t know how to handle it. Lost jobs, financial hardships, his grandmother, aunt, and mom all dying in a year’s time.

    He looked for comfort wherever he could find it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the arms of my mother.

    I used to hate him, but now only have pity.

    In summation, I suppose the death of my family is a loss I didn’t handle well at all, and it’s taken years to get peace and freedom.

  11. Profound & thought-provoking post…thanks for sharing it with us! How I react/have reacted has really depended upon where I’m at, personally/emotionally, at the time of the loss. If loss or tragedy occurs when one is already stressed, the loss/tragedy seems to strike harder & dig deeper into our souls. If we are in a good place, personally/emotionally, the loss is still deeply felt, but it seems like we’re better able to cope & find some kind of meaning…lesson…”silver lining” — if you will. Have you experienced that aspect?

  12. Thoughtful and insightful!

  13. Excellent truths here. When my dad died in 2004, it was completely different than when my grandmother died in 1989. #1 I am more mature about life and death issues. #2 I have a firmer grip on my relationship with Christ. The Bible has proven to be my anchor in times of sorrow. #3 I’ve watched others experience tremendous growth as a result of facing such tragedies. It gave me faith to believe God could actually do good through a bad situation. It is a mystery to me how this works, but this is what makes Him God. Thanks for getting my brain thinking, Tor

  14. This is all so true, and people need to realize these things.

  15. Ginae B. McDonald says:

    It’s all so true. I am glad to see such an article. Thank you :)

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