Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Your need to grieve your loss

Abundant Life After Loss

God's timing is always perfect. It is no accident that I am writing on loss the same day a study of the book of Job came to an end. It is natural to compare one person's loss to another's. But what comes natural is typically not the right thing to do. Can you imagine the result if we were to compare our loss to Job's? We would heap the guilt of considering our relatively small loss worthy of causing us grief and pain on top of proper grief and pain. Here are a few things well meaning advisers might say that lead us to compare one loss to another. 

Cheer up. It could be worse.

Look on the bright side. 
You still have. . .

You think that's bad? 
Miss Fortune lost. . . 

Yeah, I went through the exact same situation. You will be fine.

All these do is downplay your need to grieve your loss. When loss strikes it doesn't matter if it could be worse, what's on the bright side, what Miss Fortune lost, or what the result of some one else's exact same situation was. And does anyone ever go through the exact same situation? Only if they are experiencing it with you; and even then it will impact each person differently. 

So, if comparing our loss to a greater loss isn't helpful; then what is?

For the one who has suffered the loss: 1) Express your loss to someone you trust - if they go down comparison road find someone else. Do not minimize or deny the loss and keep it bottled up inside. 2) Keep living - don't make the loss greater by letting it negatively impact your future. 3) Stay in contact with positive people who will allow you to work through the grief. 

After the first of several job losses I attempted to jump over the grief and go straight to the better life on the other side. What a huge mistake! My attempt to instantly make life better resulted in disaster. In addition to that, I only delayed the grieving process. Ten years later I acknowledged and grieved the loss and only then could I move on from it. After being bottled up for ten years it was one ugly mess to deal with; far worse than if I'd dealt with it immediately.

For those in support roles: 1) Listen more, talk less. 2) Be prepared to be inconvenienced - the dam of emotions may break in the middle of the night. That's when they will need you most. Give them permission to - No - make them promise to contact you anytime day or night when their flood of grief rushes in. 3) Follow up and be there for the long haul. No one gets through loss overnight.

Easy as 1, 2, 3? Not at all! Every situation has it's own nuances which must be taken into consideration. Some people may need a friendly kick in the behind. Others may require hospitalization, medication, and counseling. I needed both and more.

What everyone needs is genuine love, compassion, and care. The ultimate source of this is Jesus. It is our duty and privilege to share with others the love, compassion, and care He has lavished on us.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The importance of positive reminders

 Abundant Life After Loss 

Of the four words in this blog's subtitle after seems to be the least important. I see it as the most important. It is something you continue to live with and it can be difficult to put in the past. It is harder still to keep it there.

My initial job loss happened over a decade ago and the aftereffects of that one event still impact me today. This is true of nearly every loss. Loss can be moved on from but can't be restored. I found another job. In some ways it is better. In some ways it is worse. The bottom line is that it is not the same.

It is easy to adopt a negative, my life will never be the same, attitude. It is true that, after major loss, life never will be the same. There are many reminders of how past loss is impacting present circumstances. They make the task of putting loss in the past, and keeping it there, seem impossible. Grief over loss is healthy. Living the rest of your life in the shadow of loss is not. Loss must not be allowed to control the present and ruin the future. If allowed, loss becomes an anchor that prevents your life from moving forward. The longer the anchor is down the harder it is to pull up.

Overcoming a major loss takes great resolve to adopt a positive attitude; despite current circumstances and nagging reminders. The best way I have found to do this is to remind myself that my life will never be the same but this does not mean it will always be worse. Loss has a way of creating tunnel vision. The loss looms large and the abundance of life's positives get pushed off to the side unseen. The positives are there. They are hard to see and you may need a friend to point them out at first. As your view broadens the positives will take up more and more of your vision until loss, while still there, is less and less your focal point.

Daily positive reminders are also a must. Get a book of Bible promises, journal your blessings, spend time with good friends, and attend church regularly. Read how much Jesus loves you in the Bible. This is His love letter to you. Reply in prayers of love and thanksgiving to Him. There is hope in Him. When hope is regained abundant life AFTER loss can be seen clearly. Trade in the anchor of loss and anchor your life to Jesus Christ. He is the only anchor that holds regardless of what storms of life you encounter.

God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

Hebrews 6:18,19 (New Living Translation)