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Loss is a difficult part of life. It’s connected to us like our skin. It’s unavoidable; it’s constant; it’s never mistaken in the hearts that feel it. And just as skin reveals time passed, loss leaves a mark on our strength and shakes our very core. It follows no schedule. Loss has neither good nor bad timing, as we are unable to make that judgment. It can be swift and random; it can be slow and methodical. It comes in many forms. Loss can be as impalpable as a dream not reached or as tangible as a parent, a sibling, a child gone too soon from those who loved them the most. It knows no level of pain; it shows no mercy. It is inevitable and is as much a part of human existence as breathing, connection, caring. It is a common experience that can be encountered many times during our lifetime; it does not discriminate against age, sex, race, education, economic status, religion, culture, or nationality.

Loss is an everyday event: a lost wallet, a child’s soccer game, an investment, a few more hairs. In cases like these, we tend to move on quickly. But there are losses we can’t move on so easily from. A lost job, a divorce, a home destroyed, a cherished pet, a friendship, good health, or what many of us consider to be the ultimate loss, death of someone we love. Losing a family member, a child, a parent, a friend is unmatched in its emptiness and profound sadness and can irrevocably change the course of our life. The complex feelings of pain we experience, the basic core of grief, arises from wanting what we can no longer have. It’s also not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of one’s sorrow over the loss of a beloved pet. Whether sudden or expected, the death of someone we love causes visceral grief like no other. It feels as if we’ve been punched in the stomach; it takes our breath away. We don’t want to accept the reality of our loss.

The loss of a child is described as the “ultimate bereavement.” I watched my parents struggle immensely for years over the death of my brother. The sadness of loss is an essential part of being human. The loss of a loved one can stretch our hearts to the breaking point. Our grieving is the process of becoming able to tolerate the pain so that we can face the reality of our loss and gradually come to understand it, adjust to it, and ultimately accept it. Grief is a part of life. It is the natural human response to any significant loss in our lives. It has no set pattern or order; the intensity and duration is different for everyone. It will ebb and flow like the ocean waves. Grief is a process and it takes time as we adjust to life after loss. Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. We face our grief in diverse ways. We turn to friends and family for strength and can draw comfort and hope from our faith.

I lost a childhood friend this past month. His death was sudden and unexpected and all that loved him have felt uncontrollable and devastating grief. He was an incredible person in so many ways. He was a fisher of men. He leaves behind an adoring wife and three children. There will be no shortcuts through their grief. My hope for them is the journey through this immeasurable sadness becomes one day a path to peace and wholeness. Grief can lead us to profound understanding where we can reach beyond our individual losses. Our loss can be a catalyst for positive growth. It is how we are able to manage our pain. It is what we call resilience. Resilience gives us the courage to go on, to heal without forgetting, and can allow us to fill the void with new experiences, people, love.  

Being blessed with the capacity to give and receive love, we are forever changed by the experience of loss and grief. The magnitude of each loss, however, becomes the measure of the gifts we have in our life. Thank you GS for being such an amazing gift to so many. You have left an enduring imprint on our hearts. Until we meet again, we have our wonderful memories.

Heaven’s the lucky one now…