There is no life without loss

There is no life without loss

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Loss is upsetting. Leaving a favorite scarf behind in a restaurant cloakroom is annoying. We return to the restaurant and the silk scarf that we treasured from our trip to Thailand is no longer there. Losing one’s keys, or driver’s license or even passport is aggravating. Having to remake the keys on our ring is time consuming. Going to the DMV for a new license is beyond time consuming. And applying for a new passport, always just before we need one is the epitome of high stress. But on a relative scale, these are trivial losses.
There are other kinds of loss. We might lose our job. Our company, under economic pressures, may have eliminated our department, and there are not a lot of openings for our position in other places. Such a loss might herald serial losses to come. Without a job we might not be able to pay the rent and be forced to leave our apartment, and move back with parents. Or depending on our stage of life, we might not meet our mortgage obligations with dire consequences for our family home. Financial losses can sometimes trigger the loss of a relationship if the stress becomes too great. Marriages break up, families divide, lives take unexpected turns as a result of different kinds of loss. As we know too well, the loss of a treasured relationship can be caused by any number of factors.
Sometimes people lose their way. They may think they are set on a particular path but enough obstacles may cause them to rock back on their heels and try to figure out what to do next. They may even, for a time, lose their sense of self and have to figure out who they are and what they want right from square one again.
The ultimate loss is death. The death of a loved one is irreversible, and whatever we may feel about life after death for the deceased, that person is physically lost to those who continue living. If we have lost a friend, no longer will he or she be there to listen, to lend a hand, to give advice, to suggest fun trips or provide bottomless hospitality or just precious companionship. Those whom we have loved for a long time are no longer witness to our lives, to our triumphs and our sorrows. They seemed as much a part of our lives as our limbs, but now they are severed and will no longer walk with us into the future. It is hard to comprehend. It is even harder to bear. The heart hurts.
So what do we do in the face of such loss? We tighten the inner circle that existed around the loved one by holding each other close. We dwell on the wonderful attributes of the person who is no longer with us and use them as an inspiration for ourselves. We chuckle together over the shortcomings of that person because we don’t want to lose the humanness of our friend. Indeed we may have loved him or her as much for that person’s perceived failings as for the virtues. Nor do we want to lose the truthfulness of our memories.
The deceased lives on in our heads. We can talk with that person, however one sided the conversations, ask advice and reliably supply the answers because we knew that person so well. We can remember the endless times and places we have been together, the secrets we have shared, the many ways our horizons were broadened and our knowledge increased because of our common experiences and our relationship throughout our lives.
And we can move on. Our friend would want that, in fact, insist on it. When one dies, his or her story ends and is physically left behind at that place and time. But the stories of the living continue and sooner or later must be embraced.
Goodbye, dear friend. We will miss you for the rest of our lives. Thank you for all you have been and all you have given us. It has been a blessing to know you.