Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When We Experience Loss In Life...What Now?

Loss (noun) 1. the state of being deprived of or of being without something that one has had; an ending

In the scheme of my one little life, it is not that big a loss.

But it is still sad.  That is how it feels when we lose something, when we lose some one, when that which was in life, is not anymore. Loss.

Two folks I’ve become good friends with told me last week that they are moving to New York City this spring, for a new job, an exciting promotion and a brand new life. I met them through a community choir three and a half years ago, and in that time we’ve sung together, hung out together and shared lives together in community. I’m very fond of them. But come May, our weekly connections will end, as they move 211 miles away. No more every Wednesday night practices or Sunday night trivia or nerve wracking but joyful concerts.     

And yes I trust through Facebook and occasional visits we’ll stay connected, the friendship won’t end, and yet: that which was, is now lost. That’s life, right? All things change eventually. People come in and then go out of our lives. Kids grow up and go away to school.  Jobs end.  Families come together and families fall apart.  What we depend upon today, or count on as a given, the status quo: it shifts. The familiar departs and it is hard.  Loss.

In the scheme of my life, it was a big loss, very big.  One year ago I lost two loved ones within the span of three days. On a Thursday, Valentine’s Day 2013, Sue, my lifelong mentor, died of cancer.  Then two days later on the 16th, I lost my cousin Kathy, also to cancer.  Seventy two hours. Two of the biggest losses I’ve ever known.

And yes I am so thankful to God for the gift of these two women. Sue: who taught me how to be a person of faith and minister for more than 35 years.  Kathy: whom I grew up with, shared precious childhood memories with, holidays and weddings and family. But the tough reality is that while how they loved and made this world a better place will always live on--they did not. They are gone, for a whole year now.

Hard to believe. Loss is like that. We may prepare for it, steel our hearts for it, even expect it and yet, it still hurts.  Loss in life.

Maybe loss is life. Maybe part of what it means to be alive is to figure out how to accept loss as a given, even a natural part of what it is to be a human being.  True: we are children of God, all made with a bit of the eternal within us that I believe lasts forever. Yet we are also contained within mortal, even fragile containers.  We all live in a world with a multiplicity of powers and people and events far beyond our human control.  Loss just happens.

I’m not saying all this loss stuff is easy to embrace. Not suggesting a simplistic theology of “when God closes one door God opens another door!”.  No. Loss stinks.  Loss hurts.  Loss is scary. Loss may teach us, even give us new life opportunities, but it is often a heartbreaking instructor.  

And I like the status quo. I like life to be dependable.  I can even imagine at times things just carrying on as they are: people not changing or leaving, work not changing, the old town always being the old town. Yet is this how to live life in our dynamic universe?  I don’t think so.

Look out the window on this chilly February day. All Creation witnesses to the miracle of loss and rebirth, death and resurrection, endings and beginnings. For that green bud under a snowy branch preparing to blossom in a month or so, a leave had to fall last November.  Winter’s loss will be spring’s gain.    

And finally if we dare to love, dare to courageously give our hearts to friends and family and God, to places and people, to jobs and causes, to life…then the risk is always that things will end. The story will conclude.  Loss will one day knock on the front door and declare, “It is time for a change.”

Loss.  It just is. We can’t make it go away, no matter how hard we try. We can accept it and then love our best and try our best and live out our best lives in the moments we have right now then thank God for this chance. 

I’m willing to take that risk, even if I lose. How about you?


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your words with us! I hope many people will understand that we are truly blessed, even in our times of loss.

  2. So profound... without loss, there could never be a second chance, thank you.