"Life is not measured by how much one owns.” (Luke 12:15 NCV)
The policeman on the highway flagged my car down the other night. He walked towards me rather menacingly, at least that's what I could make out from the glare of the headlights. He stood beside me and asked me to roll down the window. It was a cold winter night, and the blast of the cold air hit me rather hard. "Your tail lights are off, how long have you been driving like that?" I jumped out of the car and ran towards the rear. What I saw was devastating and I let out a grunt of disbelief. The policeman came near me, took out a gloved hand from his inner pocket and touched my shoulder. "Come on buddy, it is not all that serious. Why are you so distressed?" I let out a moan, "What? Where has the trailer and the mountain bike gone?"
Life Is Filled With Losses
Nothing around us is permanent and forever, because life is filled with losses-the loss of our business, our marriage, our job, our health, and the ultimate truth-loss of the persons we love so dearly and who we hope shall live forever. There are times when we go through seasons filled with grief, seasons when tragedy happens with regular frequency, seasons when everything seems to go wrong for no apparent reason despite our best efforts.
We tend to have this myth about ourselves that we are infallible. However, life is not always fair-a fairy tale where angels fly in utter abandon and bless us to live happily ever after. But that is what life is all about. We need to realize that what we get in life is not always what we truly deserve. We believe that goodness begets good tidings and the reverse, that all bad things happen to people who wish or do bad. So when bad things happen to us despite our best efforts at being good to ourselves and others, we tend to disbelieve and lose faith. When bad things happen in our lives which defy any plausible explanation or reason, we need to understand that that is the way things work and is the essence of the cycle of life, that everything is temporary, cyclical, here today and gone tomorrow. Life is incomplete without losses, sometimes sparse, other times in abundance, but omnipresent always with every step that we take.
“Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8b NLT)
Tragedy is always the precursor to strong emotional outbursts-be it depression, fear, anger, worry or guilt. When we experience these emotions, we really do not know how to deal with them. And if they are not dealt with properly and within a time frame, recovery takes much longer.
There are people who deny grief, and keep their emotions pent up within themselves. They tend to push it down, stuff themselves, and behave as if it doesn't exist. Such people are never at terms with themselves, and struggle lifelong from emotional stress caused by losses even decades back.
So what should we do with our feelings? Well, to begin with, we need to deal with them with a heads-on strategy. We should never try to push it down and repress it, rather try to release our grief. A good way of doing that is to cry to your heart's content. If you believe in someone or something up there, be it the Cosmos, God or some unknown power that is orchestrating everything, cry out to that and say, "Hey, I am hurt, I am down, I am low. It's tough on me." Those who do not do this need to realize that the grief will pour out some time sooner or later, since everything that is pushed down tend to fester and either implode or explode. Those situations are far worse to tackle than a simple immediate outburst of emotion after a tragic event.
“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
— ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
How to Grow Through a Season of Loss
So how do we live through and thrive subsequent to a seasons of loss? How do we overcome the hollow inside created by the loss?
1. Mourn the Biblical Way.
The Bible says that there is a time to cry and a time to laugh, a time to grieve and a time to dance. It further says,“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4).
So weeping and grieving is really not child-like. Even Jesus wept. Weeping and mourning loss speeds up the healing process, while suppressing grieving only ensures that recovery is postponed.
2. Invest in Energy and Time.
One needs to invest in healing which consumes quite a bit of energy and time. After suffering losses, pain is sure to follow since it all happens suddenly and catches us off guard. Investing in time and energy is a great way to heal from these inflicted wounds that catch us totally unawares.
3. Recovery from Grief always Occurs on Individualized Basis.
Each of us have our own speed and momentum for recovery. There is really no quick-fix solution to overcoming grief, and we need to know ourselves and our loved ones better to understand how best we or they can overcome grief. While some may take lesser time, others may take far longer. While extroverts try and seek refuge in social interactions, introverts look and seek within themselves to process their feelings.
4. Attitudes can be Guided to Speed up the Process of Healing.
Our attitudes will either prolong or heal our grieving. Though we cannot change our attitude towards life, we can try and take control of them to a large extent. We need to modify our attitude to realize that losses can never devastate us, and that once we overcome our grief, we will jump back into life and then move on with living.
5. Anticipating Complete Recovery.
When life takes a step backwards, we need to remember that for every step back there will be two steps to the front. When a backward step is taken, rather than dwelling on the misery of the step, anticipate the following two steps forward. Thus, any loss is only temporary, for there is a world full of hope and happiness ahead in life.
“It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”
— ― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
My Personal Season of Loss
When I was a kid, our mother was the anchor of our house. Whenever we would go out on our Sunday trips in the big Dodge station wagon car of ours, we would all sing songs from "The Sound of Music" or contemporary hits from that era. My father would also pitch in with his rich baritone voice that would throw the tune in disarray, but all the same we would laugh, sing and be happy to be together as one whole family.
When I was around twelve years old, my mother passed away. She fought a long and bitter battle against cancer, but could not win it at the end. I still remember the evenings when she would pace around the house with her upper teeth biting her lower lips hard to control the pain of cancer gnawing away her insides. Those earlier days of reckless fun were no longer there after she went. My father turned grim and introspective and took refuge in religion, while my sisters went away to different cities either after marriage or to pursue further studies. That left me, my elder sister and my father alone in the house. The songs were gone, those Sunday drives never took place again, and we started simply 'getting along' in life and growing up and getting older.
After a few years, the whole family came together once again celebrating the birth of the first child of my eldest sister. We got talking about how great it would be to have mom around, and after some time all of us got singing "Do Re Me" from Sound of Music, including my dad in his voice that was no longer baritone as before. By the time we got into the second part of the song, all of us were weeping and by the third part were crying out loud with tears running down in cascades. The song got over, we then got into other songs that we all sung together once, and after some time all of us started feeling much better.
We knew then that we had overcome, that life had taken its own course and healed us to a certain extent from the loss that all of us suffered together, though the loss of mom would remain irreplaceable to us children until the very last, only the hurt had mellowed with time.
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”
Your Season Of Loss
Note From The Author
We all go through a season of loss when tragic events occur one after the other for no apparent reason. At times we feel like giving up and submitting ourselves to the vagary of time, at other times we feel like grasping our lives back and guiding it towards fulfillment and happiness. We are not always successful at such attempts, but it feels good to know that we at least tried.
Thank you for reading this article. I appreciate your opinions, and it would be nice to leave a note for me to understand you better.