“I could strengthen you with my mouth, and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain.” Job 16:5
Loss has many faces. Loss presents itself in the life of any mourner in various ways. There are two faces that emerge during loss, and they are both lying to you and to me. There are two dishonest faces to loss. These two perspectives may come from the opinions of others, or they may come from pressure you put on yourself.
Don’t underestimate the seriousness of your loss. On one hand, you are tempted to dismiss, diminish, or downplay your loss. Eventually, you feel or receive pressure to move on. The temptation is to treat your loss as if it’s no big deal. Everyone else has moved on, it seems, so you need to push your pain beneath the surface. As one person told me, “I just don’t want to be a downer around everyone.” There is pressure—perceived or real—to downplay your loss and recover quickly.
“People must process pain and sorrow, not simply ‘ let go’ of it.” Ligon Duncan, When Pain is Real and God Seems Silent: Finding Hope in the Psalms
Loss is simply not pleasant. All we know is life, and we don’t want it to end. We love our family and our friends. We are invested in our community and our church. We feel a calling to our causes. So, on one extreme we seek not to think about loss more than we have to think about it. Again, it’s just not pleasant.
But beware. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating your loss.
However, there’s another dishonest face to loss.
Don’t overestimate the seriousness of your loss. On the other hand, we are tempted to crumble in despair, overemphasizing our loss. Your ongoing pain overwhelms you, and you decide it’s simply too much to handle. Recovery is impossible. You might be tempted to say, “My loss is so much worse than the losses of others.” I was talking to a friend whose mother saw no purpose after the loss of her lifelong partner in marriage. The outcome of such unbridled despair is to give up and give in. Your loss is allowed to overflow and overwhelm your ability to live. You couldn’t move on even if you wanted to.
Loss is top-of-mind. It’s hard not to think about. It’s difficult to face loss in a healthy manner. It is easier to fall into the trap of despondency where we are overcome by the pain of loss. We simply pull up our anchor and go where the heartbreak takes us. Loss is unpleasant, but it’s unavoidable, also.
But beware. Don’t make the mistake of overestimating your loss.
“By embracing the depth of…pain we are enabled to marvel at the eternal weight of glory.“ Dustin Shramek, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God
Please take note that both of these faces to loss are being dishonest with you. Loss is horrible and should not be diminished; however, loss is surmountable if you walk by faith and refuse to despair.
“Death and grief enjoy a remarkable taboo in our society. Not because of their sacred and inviolable nature, rather because of our innate aversion to the consideration of our own mortality.” Julie Yarbrough, Inside the Broken Heart: Grief Understanding for Widows and Widowers
Both extremes come from our basic aversion to contemplating our own unavoidable death. Again, loss is not pleasant. So, beware of the two dishonest faces to loss. Do not underestimate or overestimate the seriousness of your loss. Face loss with endurance and a sober mind. Acknowledge loss while trusting our good Father.
“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5