Death and taxes, the two things they say are guaranteed in life. I would have to add that LOSS is another aspect of life that is guaranteed. If the dictionary defines life “as the course of existence, the sum of all experiences and actions that constitute a person’s existence”, then these experiences can be both negative and positive. The following list of common life stages show that we human beings share experiences and events that often represent loss. Think of the losses that go with each of them and the ways in which you experience loss and grief as you journey through life?
- Loss in the form of separation from those we love (going off to childcare providers, preschool, staying overnight away from home)
- Saying goodbye to friends who are moving or relocating yourself
- Saying goodbye to our childhood as we leave for college or becoming “empty-nesters”
- Getting our first job
- Establishing our first home away from parents
- Getting married and starting a family
- Loss of professional identity when retiring
- Loss of physical, emotional, or spiritual health
During these times, we leave the comfort of our life as we have known it, and venture into the unknown. These milestones are often our most celebrated accomplishments, and yet, at the same time, loss and grief can be a part of all these experiences.
It is extremely important that we are given opportunities to share our feelings as we travel through these major life events. We need others to listen to our concerns, acknowledge our pain and to confirm our feelings. This helps to develop the coping skills necessary to deal with future loss, and helps us to recognize that loss is a normal part of life.
In Judith Viorst’s book entitled, Necessary Losses she states, “to look at loss is to see how inextricably our losses are linked to growth. And to start to become aware of the ways in which our responses to loss have shaped our lives can be the beginning of wisdom and hopeful change.”
Think about your life experiences. When you experience a loss, do you take time to acknowledge and grieve it? Do you allow yourself time to feel the pain and to heal? Are there key people in your life who help you to learn how to cope with your losses? Has your faith been helpful or hurtful to you when you are in “the valley of dark places”?
My hope is that you can look back on some of these common life events, recognize the necessary loss that is a part of your experience, and acknowledge the personal growth that takes place when you face these challenges.