Monday, 2 January 2012

On Loss

Everyone experiences loss, at different times and in different ways. True loss, the kind of irretrievable, for all time sort of loss, may be the most all encompassing of emotions, and yet we avoid its stare, avert our eyes and hurry past it like it were abandoned luggage in an airport or leprosy.

We are, for the most part, very well skilled in sharing in others joys and loves, but when it comes to their griefs and losses we are often left mute and incompetent. We are drawn to joy like moths to a flame, but are repelled by the more negative emotions. A person who has somehow acquired the skills necessary to stand firm and move towards someones grief is a rare and precious thing, and they will stand out like a sore thumb. Most people can remember a time when they experienced grief through loss, and for most there will have been someone who stood out as an important guide, who threw a rope, held out a hand, reached into the deep and pulled them out. How wonderful it would be to be the rope thrower, to be strong enough to reach into the deep.

How can we teach our children to deal with loss, both their own and the griefs and losses of those around them. To avoid these parts of life will only leave them unprepared for their own experiences. To always 'make good' suggests that grief is something to be hidden, avoided, covered up, and will offer them no protection against the inevitable negative emotions that life will deliver. To go through life with out ever experiencing loss would be a strange and rare thing indeed.

But to feel loss you must have had something to lose. Your heart can't feel empty if there was nothing to fill it. The greater the loss, the greater the love, and that should be rejoiced. Pain is only a different measure of happiness, and though the grief experienced at any time may be overwhelming it is only made possible by the love that came before it. But the love must come first, there is no loss where there has been no love, and there will be love again in even an empty heart. Love is stronger. Joy will always overcome sorrow, hope outstrip despair, and even in the depths of grief there will be things to remind you that in time, this too shall pass.

I don't do new years resolutions.  I try to live throughout the year with an awareness of my strengths and limitations, and I reserve the right to make it up as I go along. But I intend to work harder to stand with grief and loss, both in myself and in others, without flinching or turning away. I intend to recognise and value the strength of the emotion, and learn and grow from it with every bit as much devotion as I have applied to love and happiness.  


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