The toughest part of any battle is the acceptance of weakness that lies within us and corrode our strength to commence the stride.
We choose to keep on pondering about our miseries but how and why it is difficult to count on the mercies showered on us by the almighty?
The articles of this week made me very thoughtful as I kept reading your hearts and minds each day. And each of you gave me a thought and taught me something or other through your articles and experiences.
Aditi made me understand that sometimes we have to put our losses back to comfort someone else whose loss is graver than ours. And that will actually helps us to recover from our own loss.
Prabhjot assured that suffering and losses are obvious and expected.
Sreepriya made me realise that there are certain losses which are better to go through to safe guard your life, your family and your own self as well.
Rajnandini reassured that in every loss and pains that I go through our God is in absolute control.
Avinash’s article let me understand that God has a purpose behind every loss that I go through in my life.
But after reading Smruti’s article I became very thoughtful. One statement really struck me so hard that I still can’t forget it. It took me literally into a trance. “The raw experience of being in the moment with a deep sense of connection with people and things you love can be both exhilarating as well as putting you at risk for a deeply painful loss.” I reacted immediately saying that how I get attached to many people and put me into higher risk of an impending loss. Human attachments are like that when both are not on a common ground or pretending for sometime or not honest with what they really feel about each other or can’t tolerate the reality.
Now, it looks like I am pushed forward to the podium to give my share of Gyaan (Wisdom or Thoughts) about the word LOSS and how I manage it.
Just imagine when I came to this earth I came with a loss right from the word go. I had the feeling of loss at every stage of my life. We were not financially quite well to do that I would have got everything to compensate my losses. And my health issue pulled me back at every stage of life and made me feel worthless for not achieving things. I never could play though I had so much interest in different sports… I suffered the loss of a playful childhood. I never could go after a career despite of doing well in studies… I suffered the loss of a good career. I never could go for a good job even I wanted it… I had to suffer the loss in that regards as well. I could have earned well yet I had to suffer the loss of finance at my disposal. And guess what… I have the same feeling right now as well… I had all losses after losses all around me…
Don’t think that I am grumbling about life… Not at all… I used to do that every now and then but today, I don’t… But I do have that feeling of loss every time which I encounter every moment of my life and then, go through a process of dumping my losses.
How do I do that?
- Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. I have always seen my life that I get peace when I listen to the problems of others instead of dwelling in self pity. The satisfaction that I receive listening to the pains of others compensates all my losses.
- We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials. For we know that suffering help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our hope. I always tell everyone that I hate to stay sad and grumpy. And I feel extremely uncomfortable to stay gloomy. I make fun of myself and my condition and try to live above all the negativities and endure my problems with patience.
- Let your petitions be made known to God through prayers and requests. And all of you must have known how much I do that… I always tell my chat buddies – let me pray as I write and you pray as you read. It is not that God won’t help if we don’t pray to Him but it is because He loves it when we depend and rely on Him completely instead of relying on things that really can’t help only as a Jugaad (arrangements) or on a temporary basis.
Remember, I am not faking it. I am talking all these from my own life experiences. I let the gloss of loss in my life fade away every now and then with the strength of my Saviour. You can ask – why I am not completely recovering it…? Because as long as I am in this mortal body I will have the troubles but I know He has overcome the world.
To conclude I would like to share this verse which has always assured me and I am sure this might comfort you too –
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
We dislike the word “LOSS” but without LOSS there is no meaning!
At High school, I lost my primary school friends…
At College, I lost my school friends…
At University, I lost my college friends…
At my First workplace, I lost my university friends…
At my Second workplace, I lost my first workplace friends…
When “LOSS” becomes the story of every dusk, the journey of life goes jammed. Life seems burdensome and death seems the best place to bask.
Is this life all about How can I replace my loss? Why this is supposed to be my story? Is it my life or just a matter of game?
In my early 20s, my life was juggled with these questions. I was unable to understand the loss and anguish I was going through and it was almost impossible for me to find the right person to explain me the “WHYs’ in my life”.
One of my favorite cover page picture of a book talks about a Sculptor who finds a stone on the roadside and brings it to his workshop, cleans it and chisels it every day. Finally, the stone gets a beautiful image which entices people for big a deal.
Undoubtedly, this is the replica of the big picture of our life, where lose is the revealer.
Loss reveals the PURPOSE:
The Final place is always a mystery, a darkness and full of uncertainties and while going through that painful chiseling every day, the stone losses it’s early shape. Yet, in reality, it is only that loss that reveals the final purpose of its existence.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Loss reveals the PRESENCE of God:
After losing something that was precious for us, the unexplainable inner questions galore us. Though we can’t ask help outside of us but we really need the help outside of us and that’s the point we question “WHY GOD?” Primarily, it seems just a question but in reality, it’s our soulful prayer to God, which reveals us the Presence of God to do the work of explaining and mending.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Loss reveals us our HOPE:
The Loss of life brings us to a new plateau with brokenness, limitations, fear and weak in every sense and thus life seems uncertain – unknown – unacceptable – unreliable and above all uncomfortable. Whereas, in reality, the old does not exist anymore but in the new finitude there is hope as God being the sculptor of our life has started his work in us.
This means that anyone who belongs to God has become a new person.
The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
I was lost in the darkness without a guiding light,
All I had seen hopelessness and my failing plight.
Yet in the midst of that darkness, there was a tender voice,
Quietly urging me, to make the right choice.
As I believed that serene voice and choose to hold His hand,
The fearsome boisterous waves of my life calmed.
Now, all that I see an unstoppable instructing voice behind,
Telling me to enjoy His navigation to my shore afar destined!
God be with you!
Few months back on my birthday a friend sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I kept those flowers by the window, the sun shining on it and as I was admiring those lovely, fresh flowers, I was reminded that the petals would eventually wither and dry up.
Desperately to capture the beautiful moment that I was having with the fading momento, I tried to take a picture on my mobile. But the result was just a cheap imitation. And it hit me that grief is inextricably tied to love. This was a very small loss but the message was clear, ‘Love exists with the shadow of impending loss’.
The eventuality of loss always exists when we feel love – either for a person, a thing, or an experience. But sometimes people are overcome with the fear of the expected loss and try to protect themselves from the pain by holding onto the moments or avoiding conflicts at all cost, trying to make sure the relationship stays positive. However since they are no longer open or connected, eventually the love dies.
Sometimes people defend against the feared or expected pain from loss by staying emotionally distant from people. They might even keep their lives small and controllable. But this leaves them feeling cut off from an important part of themselves that is curious, wants to explore and grow, or even has a hidden passion. As a result, they remain stifled and feel empty or dead inside.
Loss can take many forms like separation, divorce, moving to distant relationships, death, disability, chronic illness, some of which are more devastating than others making our lives feel upended. Indeed, loss forces us to confront psychological challenges.
In his book ‘Loss and Trauma: Walking on Broken Bones’, Guy Winch, Ph.D. and Licensed Psychologist, mentions about five psychological challenges due to loss.
1. Overcoming Paralyzing Emotional Pain
The most immediate challenge we face in case of a loss, is that of excruciating and paralyzing emotional pain. The initial pain is so severe we might be in shock and feel as though in a haze, trapped in a terrible alternate reality from which we cannot escape. We might lose the ability to think straight or even to function in the most basic ways. The one thing that helps diminish the pain is time. Therefore, our challenge is to find ways to simply get through those first terrible hours, days, and weeks. Once the initial shock begins to fade away and the new realities set in, we face our second challenge.
2. Adjusting to Changes in Our Daily Lives:
Grief and loss can change almost every aspect of our daily routines. We might no longer have a partner to share feelings or having to restrain ourselves to do the most basic tasks. To recover we face the challenge of coming to terms with the changes that are forced upon us. Only then can we begin the process of finding new ways of living and adjusting to the physical lacuna connected to the emotional loss.
3. Reformulating Our Identities:
Sometimes grief and loss can impact our very sense of identity. We might feel as if the person we once were is lost and that the person facing us in the mirror is a stranger. We might have defined ourselves by our career but lost our job (or retired), we might have defined ourselves by being the fun couple but lost our partner, or we might have defined ourselves by our physical fitness but become disabled in an accident. To recover we face the challenge of reexamining and redefining who we are, how we see ourselves, and how we want others to view us. We have to reconstruct our identities and come to peace with our new selves and our new lives.
4. Reconstructing Our Relationships:
It is common for people to respond to profound loss by withdrawing into themselves. We might try to hold on to a deceased loved one by talking to them in our mind. At times, we might avoid other people, as they remind us of our loss. After failing out of college we might lose touch with classmates. Unfortunately, sickness and disability often make others uncomfortable and make them withdraw from us. To recover we face the challenge of reconnecting to those who remain and forming new connections that reflect the new realities of our situation.
5. Adjusting Our Belief Systems:
Trying to make sense of our experiences in life is a compelling human drive. Although some of us articulate it more clearly than others, we each have our perception on how the world works; a unique set of beliefs and assumptions through which we view the world and our place in it. Loss and grief can challenge these basic assumptions and make us question everything we thought we knew. We’re flooded with doubts and questions, the simplest and most compelling of which is often simply—why? Our challenge is to find ways to make sense of what happened and adjust our belief systems accordingly. And to thrive, we must discover a new purpose to drive our existence.
Now that we have identified the challenges with remedies, we need to implement these to reformulate our lives. Face the loss instead of ignoring or denying it. Thus, avoid self medication with alcohol or other drugs, or escapism through excessive sleep, internet use, or any other maladaptive habit that makes you vulnerable to addiction or depression.
It’s also important to talk and share your feelings with other people as it helps our mind to process the loss and often allows us to come to terms with it sooner than if we kept our feelings bottled up. Of course, it is important not to overdo these conversations as one runs the two-prong risk of wallowing in the misery and causing other people to feel compassion fatigue.
Take an inventory of the blessings you have and the various parts of your life that you can feel genuine gratitude for. This helps to refocus the mind on what one has rather than dwelling on what one lost.
As per Clifford N Lazarus, Ph.D., Clinical Director, Lazarus Institute, distracting yourself by keeping busy with enjoyable activities you can [still] do not only helps in moving towards acceptance of the loss but it will also ward off deepening sadness because of a process called “behavioral activation” which has been shown to effectively treat depression.
And the most important thing to remember is that recovering from grief and loss takes time. So think well, act well but give it enough time.
Also remember that there’s no way around experiencing loss. Living is definitely accompanied by risks of choosing to explore new territory and making yourself vulnerable. The raw experience of being in the moment with a deep sense of connection with people and things you love can be both exhilarating as well as putting you at risk for a deeply painful loss. But it also represents opportunities for personal growth and living life fully.
“Live life and accept loss”
Treasure what you lose and look forward to what you have.
To not have something that you wish, is a loss.
To let go of something that you cherish, is a loss.
To have something, yet not have it entirely to yourself is a loss.
Myriad are such experiences that life brings across!
Life often spins mixed blessings. It was the day my Grade 12 results were to be declared. I was waiting with a lot of anticipation as I had worked very hard at my studies. My teachers were expecting me to make it to the State Merit List and I as well as my family were hopeful for that to happen too. In my heart of hearts, I was secretly hoping to see my name as the state topper in Humanities – though any position in the State Merit List would bring satisfaction! The result was declared by the State Education Minister and was telecasted LIVE. Along with the statistics, the name of the topper was declared. It was not me! While there was a sinking feeling, I knew that I would surely be in the List. It would still take some more time for the result to be available on the internet. So, my loving father sped to my college where generally the result list is made available. A few hours later, he entered the colony gate honking his bike as much as possible. As I rushed outside, he showed two fingers. My joy knew no bounds to realize that I was in the second position in the State Merit List.
My teachers called to congratulate me and asked for my detail marks. As I told my marks to one of my teachers, she was astonished at my internal marks in one particular subject. Six marks had been reduced from what the examiner had given me!! And I had missed the first position by just two marks. Everyone was very upset. The initial joy dampened. Heated discussions went on in my college. My parents were very sad. Talks of an enquiry, made the rounds – as it was a clear cut case of deliberate tampering.
That is when, I put my foot down saying that I thank God for whatever He has given me. God is in control of the entire universe and of every aspect of my life as well. Out of 1.6 lakhs candidates who appeared the exam that year, if God could take me to the second position, He could have very well prevented the misdeed and taken me to the top. If He didn’t, it was for a purpose known best to Him. So, no need for any enquiry.
And thus, I missed out on a Gold Medal!
What came to my mind as a 17-year old then was – Did I do something wrong because of which God kept back this blessing from me? I did some soul-searching, because after all, as children we are taught that God punishes us for our wrongs. But, then God reminded me a verse from Psalm – “If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” And then another verse – “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Both these verses together spoke to me loud and clear that time.
While there is a human consequence for every wrong action, God does does not deal with us as our wrongdoings deserve. Had He been dealing with us as our actions deserve, none of us would have survived. Sin is so grossly disagreeable with God! Rather, God deals with us with immense patience and grace, teaching us to depend on Him and trust Him for everything against all odds.
Three years later . . .
I was waiting for my Graduation result. The result was declared. I had topped the University in my subject. I was thrilled. But, here too there was a dampener! My University awarded Gold Medals only to few subjects which had sponsorship. My subject was not on the list.
Yet again, lost the opportunity to be awarded a Gold Medal . . . this time, even after being the University topper!!
Two years later . . .
I completed my Post Graduation. The examination was tough, but had gone well for me. I was the only one in my department to have done an empirical research as my Dissertation, while all others in my batch had done Review work. My work was appreciated by the external examiner and has been published in a national journal (http://medind.nic.in/jak/t09/s1/jakt09s1p40.pdf). Everyone knew that I would be the highest scorer that year. But when the result came out, I was devastated to know that I was in the second position and my friend whom I had helped a lot during the preparation phase, was the topper. That day, I broke down! I just couldn’t believe it. It was next to impossible.
Years later, I got to know the inside story. A tiff between two of my Professors had led to one of them reducing my marks even after the result was finalized.
Lost a final opportunity to get a Gold Medal!
That is when God comforted me by reminding the verse from the Bible from the book of Revelation that speaks about Heaven – “Each of the twelve gates was a solid pearl. The streets of the city were made of pure gold, clear as crystal.” I told myself, that accomplishments in this world would last for a while. Each year there would be some new person who would be awarded a medal . . . and my name would soon get replaced with someone else’s. Moreover, I would leave behind the accolades when I die. So, what is it to crib and cry if I didn’t get to wear a Gold Medal around my neck! I was joyful in praising God for His bountiful mercies . . . as He made me realize these precious truths.
Dear reader, you may have lost something very precious in your life – something/someone that is irreplaceable. Don’t be dejected. God is in complete control of your life. It may not make sense now perhaps, as you count your losses. But, if you believe in the assurance of His control, His peace will reign over your heart, as was in my case.