Its counter-intuitive but, in the midst of loss there is a unique opportunity for healing. I know this because I’ve seen it, time and time again. I’m participating in a Loss & Grief Circle this summer and among the things I’ve learned there, in that trusted, safe and sacred conversation is that loss is an inevitable consequence of being human.
Every one of us will experience loss. And there are many kinds of losses none of which makes any of the others less important, less consequential or less painful. Loss can be cumulative, it can be unexpected, and it can be enduring.
Usually, we encounter loss as an enemy set on snatching something of importance away from us. We resent the loss and may even despise the vulnerability that puts us at risk for loss, but still, it is an inevitable consequence of being human:
- Humans are wired for connection, so when we open our hearts to others (when we need them) we also make ourselves vulnerable to the pain of losing them.
- Humans are social, so when we build community or establish a circle of friends and family, we make ourselves vulnerable to the discomforts of change and loss there too.
- Humans are builders and problem-solvers, so when we create a family, launch a business, complete an education, or achieve any other life-long goal, we are also at risk for the anguish that may come if any of those accomplishments is taken from us.
Loss comes in many forms; over a lifetime we’ll lose objects we acquired, people we loved, communities we’ve built and even pieces of ourselves that may be shed with age or injury or illness. Yet, loss can also bring healing.
Sometimes it is the story we tell ourselves about the loss we experience that keeps us from discovering the healing that is available. If our story of loss is only about the grief it has caused, we may miss the point that the very same loss has brought new opportunities to us.
These opportunities may come in the form of people (really, they’re healers) who tend to us in the midst of our grief. They may come in the way of experiences we might otherwise never have encountered (a support group, a community gathering, a memorial service) without the particular loss. They may come in the form of insights that would, without the loss itself, be entirely unavailable to us – those ah-ha moments that offer perspective.
Every week it seems we are made aware of some new tragedy (Maui’s fires, Southern California’s floods, Haiti’s famine). These losses are real, but sometimes the enormous scope of their devastation is enough to make us just pull away, to avoid acknowledging them as if ignoring them will make them disappear. The loss remains – it is impacting some part of our human family in a deadly and painful way.
But somewhere in all that tragedy is also the promise of healing and rebirth. When Yellowstone burned in 2020, seeds of the lodgepole pine were released into fertile soil by the heat of the blaze and the nutrients of its ashes. Out of pain can come promise. Our personal, individual losses can bring that kind of healing and rebirth too!
I’m still mourning the loss of Lahaina and I trust you’ll remember the event I’m offering in September to raise money for that cause. Register here: https://tinyurl.com/yc33ddm3.
But in addition to that opportunity for learning and giving, I hope you’ll look on the losses in YOUR life – the people, the things, and even the intangible losses that you’ve known in your lifetime and find in them the seed of healing and rebirth that is available, if you search for it.
Loss is an inevitable consequence of being human. Growth is the healing possibility that comes on the heels of loss if we let it. I’m here for you if you’re searching for a way to grow in the midst of loss or in the wake of it, no matter how painful it has been.