Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lessons from Loss

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind...
~ William Wordsworth, Ode on Intimations of Immortality

Since my husband’s death over four years ago, I’ve been through a lot of changes. Not all of them are noteworthy, but I have developed two beneficial habits. One is an attitude of thankfulness for every good thing that remains in my life, because I now understand the reality of how quickly things can change. The second is the awareness of the knowledge that any loss can always be so much worse than it was.

Yes, Pete died at an early age. I am grateful that our children were already grown. Both of them were young adults, no longer dependent upon their parents for the basic support and structure of their daily lives. Yes, it would have been wonderful for them to have their father here for love and guidance as they stand poised for families of their own. But the kids did have a wonderful father throughout all their formative years, and God had other plans for Pete. I’m so grateful that I was not left with young children to raise without their dad.

I received some bad news today that reminded me of this blessing. A friend I worked with many years ago just lost his wife after a 10-year battle with cancer. She was a beautiful person, 44 years old, and she leaves behind her husband and two teenaged daughters. Her girls will not have their mother to help them prepare for senior prom, college life, marriage, careers, or motherhood. My friend will not have his wife to help him finish the work and share of the joy of raising their children. When I think of his situation, I thank God I was spared this burden.

Deep losses teach us important lessons. My friend is just beginning the hard journey of grief, and my prayers go with him. I don’t doubt that he will learn, as I did, the precious value of life’s remaining blessings.