Five Lessons From Loss
I have been to five funerals/memorial services this year. I officiated two and attended the others. Those, in addition to several others over the past few years, make for quite a bit of loss. During this same period of time, I have also walked through job, marriage and relationship losses with others. These experiences have taught me more than I would have expected. Here are a few lessons that I hope help you in this journey called life.
- There are always things you don’t know.
The lesson here is the age old phrase, “Never judge a book by its cover.” We tend to think we know so much about people, but we never know everything. And even that which we think we know could be inaccurate. Therefore, open your mind. Love more and judge never.
I love people, so naturally, my favorite things about loss are the people. People appear by the ones and the hundreds in seasons of loss. I have experienced funerals with a dozen or so in attendance, and some with hundreds. Regardless, people that you don’t expect to show up do. What I enjoy most is hearing stories told of experiences between the lost and others I didn’t know. To hear that others were impacted in major ways by the one that is no longer, blesses me.
You also realize new things when you are going through one’s belongings. Tears flow as you see pictures, letters, clothing, and collectibles. Seeing new things and hearing new stories makes me want to learn more about people now-while they’re alive. So, go for it! Love more, listen more, invest more, and judge never.
- You matter more than you think.
This lesson refers to being present for those who have experienced a loss. It is common sense that being there for your friends and family makes a difference, but I have learned that it matters more than you think. I have received so many heartwarming words of gratitude because I showed up – even when I was not very close to the person/family. So, show up. Even for those you are not very close with, your presence matters.
- Money Matters.
I have heard people talk about fights over loved one’s money, but did not realize the reality of it. It saddened me to actually witness this. The lesson here is to get a will, but more importantly, clarify the will. It’s heartbreaking to hear people devastated about decisions made. Though they may not agree with the decisions, I think it’s best to inform them of the reasons beforehand. It could possibly prevent unnecessary dissension.
- Loss Is Inevitable.
This season of loss has sobered me to the fact that loss will happen, over and over again. The lesson here is to seize the day. Make every moment matter. Look to your left and right and make a difference while you can. You nor the person next to you may be here tomorrow, so live as such.
- You Will Survive.
Though loss is tough, you will survive. I still talk about how weird it is to walk through my grandparent’s house, knowing I will never see them again. Some people spend years grieving a loss that results in depression and stagnation of life. The lesson here is that we are still here. We have experienced much loss of life as well as losing jobs, friends, spouses, possessions, and the like. But, though we lose those people and things, we do not lose our purpose or calling. We can still impact lives. I encourage you to keep living. Loss does not make you a loser. You will survive!