Recently I have continued reading a book called, All Our Losses, All Our Griefs, by Herbert
Anderson and Kenneth R. Mitchell. It is written from a pastoral perspective, incorporating both theology and the human sciences. When one thinks of loss or grief, the mind immediately turns to
the subject of death. Death seems like the ultimate loss, and indeed, when we lose a loved one, the loss is quite profound and persistent; its effects are enduring, leaving permanent marks.
I started reading this a few years ago when I experienced several different but related events in my life, including death of a loved one. I never finished the book. Today I happened upon it and
picked up where I left off...chapter 4 (yes, I suppose I am a slow reader). I have not experienced losses lately of the magnitude I did years ago, but other losses have occurred. Regardless
of our life happenings, all of us experience loss and dealing with the grief that may accompany it. Indeed, we experience all kinds of losses, big and small throughout our entire lives.
Acknowledging the loss and the feelings it creates is key to finding some way of moving on with our lives in a healthy, productive way.
As I picked up the book again and opened to chapter 4, I had music of Arvo Pärt to accompany my reading. (His music, by the way, is a pretty good soundtrack for the subject.) One sentence really struck me, "Loss of any kind requires reaffirmation of the self". The statement seems so simple, but it kind of blew me away for a moment. The implications of this go to the heart of what it has meant for ME to recover and grow after loss. I never realized it at the time, but in order for me to process and grow from losses, I have needed affirmation that I am _________ (fill in the blank- strong, good, smart, hard-working......etc.) enough to take the next step. Or if I didn't know what steps to take, to summon the courage to be able to explore and find out what steps I could even try.
Do you remember the segment that used to be on SNL many years ago called, "Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley"? In the show, a self-helping and cloyingly optimistic person with troubles declares to himself in a mirror, " I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!" This it not exactly what I am talking about, however taking this stance in the face of trouble can be a good catalyst for getting moving in the right direction.
When I am troubled by things I have lost, things completely out of my control, I try to really examine myself and recognize the good things that are still in my life. I examine the skills I have learned, the experiences I have had, the people in my life who love me, the memories of seeing foreign places and tasting unusual foods on vacation, my morning coffee, my afternoon coffee, my purr-happy cat, loving spouse, bills that (at least for the moment) are paid on time or early, even the gift of time to sit here and write a little blog post which (who knows?) may never be read by anyone but me-- All of these things are reasons to be grateful. Declaring these things and taking this inventory gives me enough strength to start the recovery process from losses, whether minor or profound. As I take this inventory and declare, that I am "good enough and strong enough and know that I am loved" I have actually already begun the journey of living in recovery. I think it is time for me to close this post and find a mirror now.