“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28
A few months into grief, I planned to go to Durham to visit Paul’s family. My visit would coincide with a monthly accountability group of younger Christian businessmen from a cross-section of churches in the area. Paul, my son, is a part of this group, and he asked me if I’d like to go with him later in the month when I visited. I heartily said I would love to go with him. Later, after he had coffee with the leader, he asked if I’d be willing to talk with the guys about facing loss. I agreed.
In advance, they posed a question they wanted to discuss: “Can you prepare for loss?” They asked, “Is there any way you can prepare for a tragic loss such as you’ve experienced?” I began to think about the question before I attended the meeting. I had an answer for them.
Yes and no.
There’s no way to plan for what may happen one day. Sudden loss. Loss after a long illness. A car accident. Murder. Or natural death at the end of a good, long life. No one knows, and so, you cannot prepare for your specific loss.
But as I thought about it, you can prepare for loss. Suffice it to say that my parents, leaders in my life, and the way I choose to live my life have prepared me to face loss. My belief in Christ serves as a foundation and thus has prepared me. When loss invaded, I landed on a previously built foundation.
“…how we prepare before we come into a crisis has significant impact on how we go through it.” Laurie Wilcox, My Worst Year, My Best Year
“Those who take time to increasingly come to know and trust God as he truly is, are laying the foundation of a life without lack.” Dallas Willard, Life Without Lack
Further, I prepared by suffering with Kim through the loss of her brother, David Scott Plumblee. I learned how to walk with someone who was mourning, and I learned how to mourn myself. His illness was a long and difficult journey. Heaven grew a little sweeter and a lot more real during our loss of Scott.
I also prepared by grieving the loss of Scarlett Ray Joiner, our first grandchild. When we lost Scarlett, it was a sudden and heartbreaking loss. Surprise and shock overtake you and your thoughts seek to make sense of the varied dimensions or dynamics. I knew my daughter was under assault emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Kim and I were cast into our own despair. Add to that the need to make travel arrangements. Or better said, we had to change our already-scheduled flights for two weeks away to go hold our first granddaughter. I had to mourn this loss also with Michael, my son-in-law. Then, I had to communicate with my sons, Paul and Trevor, throughout the experience. We cried on the phone together.
Experience is a great teacher. These real experiences of loss help to prepare you for the next loss.
So it turns out, you can prepare for loss. Ultimately, as you prepare for life, you are also preparing for death and loss. How you live your life matters. Walking by faith is important. Stand firm on a solid foundation in life, and it will carry over into the pain when, inevitably, you are forced to face loss.
“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.” 1 Corinthians 3:10