In the days since Barbara Bush’s death, I’ve read and heard additional details about her life. The family experienced many life changes, including over 25 moves, numerous job changes, and media and public scrutiny. But the event that most affected the family was the diagnosis of leukemia and subsequent death of their 3-year-old daughter, Robin. Devastated by the loss of their child, the Bushes grieved. Barbara Bush said she realized she needed to move on with life the day she overheard 7-year-old George tell a friend he couldn’t come over and play because he needed to stay home and cheer up his mother.
Everyone experiences some form of loss at some point in life. Difficult life circumstances come despite your social status, background, bank account balance, or achievements. No matter what your loss—a death, broken relationship, job termination, unrealized dream, or unfulfilled expectation—if you allow it, there is potential for loss to define, paralyze, and reshape the rest of your life.
Here are some things to consider following loss:
Fear lurks following any type of loss. After you experience loss, it’s hard to avoid the expectation that some other tragedy or hardship is just around the corner. Fear keeps you looking backwards and prevents you from seeing the potential ahead and moving on to the next chapter of life.
Look for Everyday Beauty
When loss is foremost in your mind, you often miss sources of beauty all around. God’s creativity and design is abundantly apparent in nature and can provide comfort and inspiration. Beauty also comes through visual arts, music, books, drama, architecture, and the love and support of others. Be observant and find joy in some aspect of each day.
Some people feel that laughter and loss are diametrically opposed, but scripture tell us they can coexist. “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief” Proverbs 14:13 ESV. Those who can find nuggets of humor in various elements of life take the initial steps in moving beyond loss. Humor doesn’t end grief or make light of sorrow, but moments of cheer lift a wounded spirit. “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed” Proverbs 15:13 ESV.
Embrace a Cause
Often loss diminishes when you put time and effort toward a pursuit you identify with and support or toward a creative activity. While loss is something beyond your control, helping with a cause or doing something creative with your hands refocuses your mind and lessens the heaviness of loss.
Tap into Spiritual Strength
I feel great sadness for those who don’t understand or acknowledge that spiritual comfort and support are available in times of loss. Instead, many reject God, feeling he would not have allowed loss to invade their lives if he really loved them. It is not unusual to replay the events of your loss and search for reasons and explanation. Trusting God involves acceptance and faith, even when answers never come.
Grieve with Hope
1 Thessalonians 4:13 reminds us that we shouldn’t grieve without hope, yet many find it difficult to look beyond their loss. Be encouraged by the fact that many have experienced loss without allowing it paralyze them for the rest of their lives. Yes, acknowledge and feel the emotions of loss, but don’t stop there. Continue to look for what God is teaching you through your loss, accept encouragement and support, and move forward with expectancy, knowing He is in control and will skillfully weave your sorrow, grief, and loss into the fabric of your life’s tapestry.
“‘In the world you will have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.’ [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]” John 16:33 AMP