Why is loss so powerful, so all-pervasive, so painful?
It seems to me that loss is woven into the fabric of our fallen world and our fallen humanity ever since paradise was lost through Adam and Eve; that loss reverberates through the centuries and has become part of the human condition. Such it is that loss hurts so much – its almost as if it disturbs a primal wound and evokes a memory of emotions we did not know and do not recognise.
Of course loss is an intrinsic part of a world under the curse of death or we could say a natural part of a world that knows that autumn and winter will follow spring and summer as surely as night follows day and of course, vice versa. It is of course the knowledge that life comes from death and after death, that death is not the last word but resurrection is that inspires Christian hope. not a vain hope that things will get better but the strong conviction that the death and resurrection of Jesus guarantees that God will bring new life, recreate the world and Paradise will be restored.
Yet losing still hurts; loss is a harsh reality and being lost is a tough place to be.
We experience loss in many ways – from the major losses of the death of a much loved relative, friend or pet to the less tangible loss of reputation or dignity, to the loss of a job or a home, our health or a relationship with the resulting loss of identity, purpose and meaning that often follows. Then there’s the smaller losses we encounter almost daily as we lose our way on a car journey or lose a valued possession or money or even just the car keys!
I recently changed my job, a job I had done for 14 years and although it had changed over that time it was still in the same place with many of the same people. At the same time a trusted and valued colleague and friend also left and not only the job but moved away as well. I moved on – on to a new job and the excitement of a fresh challenge, a new beginning and opportunity. So far, so good BUT amongst all that I had lost something and I had not recognised it or at best, down-played its significance. I wanted so much to enjoy the new job, I love it and its what I’m meant to be doing and yet I wasn’t feeling as I thought I should. So it took me by surprise when I realised that I was not OK, when I acknowledged the mix of emotions rumbling beneath the surface and admitted that the face I was putting on to the world was a mask –
I was (no, am) bereaved and I am grieving!
It seems strange to say it when nobody died but its true nonetheless.
Loss is loss and it hurts.
Wherever it comes from. Whatever its scale.
Those who know about these things will talk of ‘stages of grief’ and the processes we need to work though – I guess I’ve come through denial now – but I’m not convinced its ever that easy or linear; the idea of a whirlpool of grief seems to work better as a metaphor for the chaos and turbulence of emotions that rise and fall only to reappear later when you least expect it. Either way there’s a sense of being lost, of being out of place or just that things are not as they should be. I’m sure it’s going to take time and some effort to find my way out.
Maybe we all need to see how loss affects us all, in the small things as well as the major events of life and death; to recognise that loss is part of the human condition that echoes back to Eden . However, the Christian story does not leave us in that place of lostness, east of Eden, nor does it leave us on Easter Saturday – mourning the death of Christ – but leads us to Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection and points us to that day in the future when loss will be lost forever!