Dad passed away (cancer) just a few months before I turned 16; I often grieve that loss, but lately I have been thinking a great deal about loss and grief…especially how people deal with and work through it differently. I was hoping that writing this would allow me the chance to articulate some conclusions I have reached; I thought I would share them with you.
Loss can be defined as the state of being deprived of or of being without something/someone that one has had. Grief can be defined as keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
My two great children, Isaiah and Jeremiah, are now grown men. I used to say things like “God gave them to me.” While that may be a lovely sentiment, I do not really believe it is necessarily true…this is just something people say. To my way of thinking, they were entrusted to me; I was entrusted to care and be responsible for them until such time they were ready to build a life of their own choosing (which they have).
The term “loss” as well as the surrounding feelings implies a sense of ownership. For instance when we say, “Oh no, I have lost my keys,” it is implied that we own our keys and have lost or misplaced them. I think about my statement (a statement I have said many times), “I lost my father to cancer…” This is going to sound contrary to my beliefs, but I often feel a sense of loss when I think about my kids moving on with their lives as I will likely not be such an integral part of their lives.
I have come to the conclusion that prolonged episodes of grief as a result of a perceived loss are often a misuse (waste maybe?) of energy. Perhaps that seems a bit insensitive, and if you think so, that is okay…try to remember, though, that I know about “loss” and I have experiences plenty of grief episodes…so hear me out.
Many people I know continue to mourn and suffer from the loss of a parent/child/relative/friend. It saddens me that people (and I used to be one of those people) expend so much of their energy holding on so tightly to that suffering, that loss, that regret. My dad died before I really got to know him. Do I have reason to be sad? Yes. Do I have a reason to be mad at God for taking from me? Sure. But I ask myself these questions: did I really lose my dad? No. Did I ever really HAVE my dad? No. Isn’t he still around and available to me? Yes.
We spend an inordinate amount of time suffering and feeling regret for things that really aren’t true or real. Yes, my father passed away…his time in that earthly, physical body concluded. However, WHO HE IS is eternal and that lives on forever. Have you ever seen a memorial t-shirt honoring someone who died “before their time”? Have you seen, on t-shirts of that type, the phrase “In Our Hearts Forever”? I have on countless occasions. Is that phrase just “something people say” or do people really believe that? If you are one who really believes as I do that those loved ones truly remain “in our hearts forever”, why spend more than a few moments of reflection on the loss of anyone? After all, you haven’t lost anything if they are “in your heart forever.”
Remember the “lost ones” fondly…keep them close to your heart…but look around you, surely there is someone/something right in front of you needing all you have to offer them…right here, right now.
Although the message is just as relevant today, I originally wrote this just over 4 years ago. Several people who are close to me are struggling with loss and grief very heavily at the time of this post. For those people especially, please know that I know (very personally) what you are dealing with; I have been there. I will listen to and cry with you if necessary: you are not alone. Your “lost” loved one(s) is(are) ever-present as well.
About the Author, Bill Curtis:
A lot of people that know me call me Superman...it's kind of a nickname, really. Let me tell you why...
Probably first and foremost is the fact that I can almost always be found wearing a Superman t-shirt...usually a Superman cap as well. I wear the superman stuff because it is a symbol of hope. As we look at the chaos around us, I believe there is still hope; that within each of us lies the potential to do good...for ourselves and each other...for the good of all mankind.