Dealing with loss

If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?
Matthew 18:12

When we’re young, we seem to constantly experience additions to our lives. We accumulate knowledge. We get new and bigger possessions. We gain more friends and relatives. For the most part, our younger years are spent expanding our individual worlds by adding people and things, both tangible and intangible.

At some point, the tide begins to change. As we grow older, there’s a greater chance of things disappearing from our lives. We start jobs or businesses but don’t always succeed. We acquire personal possessions but lose some through natural disasters or accidents. And typically, the worst losses are our friends and relatives. The longer we live, the greater the chance of losing a dear friend or family member because of relocation, disagreements, or death.

Losses can and do cause great pain, and we often blame ourselves for the losses we experience. But continually focusing on what we’ve lost is a painful way to live.

I’ve worked with many businesses and I’ve seen some that were forced to close because of economic downturns. In order to survive, others had to dramatically downsize. Many owners had trouble coping with these losses.

I’ve experienced natural disasters where people I knew lost most or all of their possessions. Those who focused on what they’d lost had the most trouble moving forward with their lives.

I believe that the loss of a loved one is the most difficult loss to survive. But any loss can be overwhelming and life-changing. I’ve seen people go into deep depression over the loss of a job, business, or personal possessions.

There’s no easy way to overcome a serious loss. It’s quite natural to grieve for what you lost, and you shouldn’t try to avoid it or deny it. But it’s easy to become mired in grief. I’ve seen people who couldn’t deal with their losses and basically gave up living. If you’ve been living with grief for too long, you need to take steps to reclaim your life.

Instead of focusing on your loss, one of the most promising approaches is to focus on what you still have. Even with major losses, there’s usually always hope. There are probably still many good aspects to your life and many reasons to continue enjoying life. The saying “count your blessings” may be a cliché, but it’s been repeated so often because of its truth.

When you feel like your losses are unbearable, try shifting your focus to all the other things that made your life worth living. Focus on what you have, not what you’ve lost.

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.
Dalai Lama
1935 –

Copyright © 2020 John Chancellor

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