“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
Well, D. Ray… Preparing for loss. It is difficult as you say. I had some time to prepare myself, sort of, as Dave had a colostomy mid June from perforated bowel, and I knew down inside that he would never be able to return to our home. I also was relatively sure that there was another mass growing someplace in his brain, he had already had two, but this one would have to remain. It’s difficult to watch your spouse lay in a bed unable to do much but speak with you. It’s sad and I must say I longed for the day that the Lord would relieve him of his misery which he disguised and withheld from me. Prepare I did, mentally. But when the final breath arrived it was still an unprepared time. Yours was a bit different as it was sudden, from what I know Kim had no previous illness, and so shock and disbelief entered. My daughter-in-law’s daddy passed suddenly with no warning to them and that was hard. I faced the loss with them in a different way but in many ways the same. I so enjoy reading your very inspiring tidbits, as I call them. They bring me to reality and I so wish I had had someone to encourage me as days turned into weeks turned into months and now 2 1/2 years. But your words now are an encouragement to me and cause me to look at life a bit differently. Thanks again special friend.
Thank you, Judy. I am so glad my “tidbits” help you. Writing them and now sharing them helps me, too.
Preparing for loss is something I have never thought about. Thanks for sharing and inspiring me to start that preparation. You are blessing so many with these messages. Praying for you!!!
Thank you, Sonny. I hope you and Deen are well!
Yes. All of this. I watched my mother suffer with dementia for years. I suppose really it was me that was suffering. She was in her own universe. As months dragged into years she became combative and then catatonic. I prayed every day for the Lord to release her (me?) from her suffering. Every day. I’d go visit her lifeless shell and pray that if the Lord was trying to teach me a lesson in all this that I would receive it….then one night, out of the blue, I got the call that she was gone. My immediate response? Weeping and wailing, “Not today Lord! I really didn’t mean it!” But He knows better. I’m still not sure of all the lessons. Maybe that I honored the Lord by being with her til the end. Maybe by being able to hold the hand of a friend as they now walk this road with a loved one. But this we know. Our hope is in Jesus. They are with Him and He is with us.
Sherry, your example is helpful to others. I’m sorry for the journey you had to walk. It is painful to watch a loved one suffer a long illness. And it’s difficult to care for them. Yes, hope is found in Jesus!