The year 2020 brought loss on multiple levels. Loss of eyeball-to-eyeball connection; loss of things we took for granted—grad parties, wedding celebrations . . . even the loss of gathering to say goodbye to loved ones who’ve slipped into eternity. In today’s post, Jaime Hlavin writes about loss, our tendency to deflect the pain associated with it, and a pathway to grieving our losses in a healthier way. Enjoy ~ John
I’ve been a parent for sixteen and a half years. Thus far the single most stressful parenting experience I’ve had? Teaching another human being how to safely operate a 2,000-lb. potential death machine (i.e. my Chevy Equinox). There is nothing more harrowing than sitting helplessly in the passenger seat while your baby transports you from point A to point B in Metro Detroit traffic. (Metro Detroit traffic: If you know, you know).
What’s even more nerve-wracking, is when your child has just nearly killed you both, and you’re attempting to “calmly” explain what she did wrong and are met with an incredulous, “I know!!” And then you silently count to ten, bite the inside of your cheek, unclench your fist from around that handle above the window, and hiss through your teeth, “If you know, then why didn’t you do it?!”
I could use a little solidarity from all the parents who’ve already gone through this and lived to tell about it.
Because I’ve said that sentence so much while teaching my daughter to drive, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on that phrase: If you know, then why didn’t you do it?
And I’ve found that I have been able to apply this question to many areas of my own life. What exactly is it about knowing that something has to change, yet doing nothing to change that circumstance or emotional state? It’s been said that we will avoid changing a situation or dealing with emotions until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.
That is specifically poignant in regards to loss. I think as believers we may often may find ourselves hurting but feel like we should suffer in silence because so many others have it “much worse than us.” For example, we don’t process the pain of a job loss or economic hardship because someone we know is dealing with the grief of losing a loved one—and their pain seems much more significant than ours.
When we avoid or deflect the pain associated with loss, we’ll eventually deal with it in some way or another. It doesn’t just go away. “Ignoring loss doesn’t help you heal . . . it just kicks the can down the road.” Some important things to remember when processing loss are:
- Acknowledge your pain. Avoid the tendency to minimize it.
- Understand that your grief process will be unique to you.
- Seek out face-to-face support from people who care about you.
- Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
When it comes to loss, it’s important to both know about it and do something about it. (Just like my daughter, who knew that she had to wait for oncoming traffic to clear before turning left, and actually doing it to save us both from much pain down the road.) We encourage you to engage with your grief process! Go ahead and feel the loss. Grieve the loss. And if you get stuck in your grief, reach out for caring and competent help.
We’re rooting and praying for you!