NAVIGATING GRIEF AND LOSS
Loss is an inevitable part of life, that never comes in a timely manner. Most of the time we can’t anticipate it. Even when we can, it usually doesn’t help. I have experienced many types of loss in my life, just like you most likely. I’m not sure what my first experience with loss was, at least loss I could truly understand that is. I think it might have been in elementary school, when I changed schools. I lost my old set of friends. I wasn’t upset by the change, but I still remember feeling a bit of an ache as I grew distant from the girls I had become so close with.
Then a couple years letter, my Grandpa died. That was my first true loss. I was only 10 I think, and I didn’t really understand how to process grief or sadness that is associated with death. As silly as it may seem, I was watching N Sync (don’t judge) on TV and I burst into tears for what I thought was no reason. My Mom came and sat by me on our blue and white plaid couch and held me tight. She asked me why I was crying, and when I told her I didn’t know, she got quiet for a moment, then tenderly whispered to me, “It’s ok to be sad about Grandpa” and kissed me on the top of my head. I remember the confusion that was working through my brain and then the release of finally understanding that losing Grandpa just HURT. And that it was ok to hurt.
Later on in life I experienced various forms of loss. Loss of family members, loss of dreams, loss of love. But I think maybe the worst of all, the most crushing form of loss, is loss of expectation. When with your entire heart and soul and every cell in your body you know and believe and EXPECT something to be a certain way… And it just ISN’T. There are no words to describe the anguish over the loss of the things we have dreamed for, hoped for, and expected. Whether it is the expectation for a relationship, or our parents to live forever, or to have a family, or for a certain dream to come true, sickness to be healed, struggle to turn to triumph… When the expectation doesn’t turn out.. It is utterly and completely heartbreaking.
And, possibly the worst thing you can hear when experiencing pain or loss are the words from another person “I know just how you feel.” Well intentioned friends and family can become uncomfortable when someone is hurting because they don’t know how to respond.
I have been there before, haven’t you?
We don’t feel we can offer the right words of comfort or give them the solace they need. So instead, it’s simple to try to commiserate, compare their struggle with something we have experienced, or try to find the silver lining and provide it them as a better way of seeing things. But, when you consider the deepest hurt you have ever felt, what was your need? Not to have someone try to find the silver lining for you, or to compare your loss with something in their own life. Usually, what you need, is just for someone to acknowledge your pain and just be there.
NAVIGATING LOSS LIKE JESUS
In John 11:35, after hearing about the death of Lazarus, “Jesus wept.” The astonishing part of all of this is that Jesus knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead and within moments there would be joy and worship. And yet…. He wept.
Because He had compassion. Compassion for the suffering of Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha. He deeply felt the suffering that Lazarus’s death had caused his family. His compassion and love opened the door for Him to weep and mourn and grieve with the sisters, even though He knew all would be made right.
Today we are surrounded by loss. Victims of natural disasters, victims of abuse. People who have survived the loss of a family member, a friend, a pet. When you experience someone else’s loss, allow yourself to not have the answers. Give yourself permission to simply say “I’m so sorry.” Or, “I wish I could make it go away. I’m praying for you.”
Let’s make sure our good intentions don’t hurt the people who need compassion the most. For all my friend experiencing loss, you are not alone. My heart hurts with you and I am always here to pray with you.
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