Dealing with Loss

Dealing with Loss.

Bar none, the worst loss I have ever felt was the divorce of my parents.  Not only was the divorce extremely painful, but the absence of my dad only compounded the suffering.  It changed me deep inside and it took a long time for me to come back from that loss.

Over the years since then, I’ve had several people who I’ve known and loved pass away. It’s not something that we can get used to.  It always hurts.  It’s sad to think that, if the Lord tarries His coming, at the end of every one of our relationships, this time bomb is waiting to go off.

Hope for the believer.

The Bible says in 1 Thes 4:13 “But I would not have you ignorant, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, that you be not grieved, even as others who have no hope.”  Our hope is that when our loved one departs, it’s not over.  We will have a reunion again when it’s or turn to pass. 

Jet

My buddy Jet.

The thing that got me thinking about this was the sudden loss of our dog Jet.  Our dogs are inside dogs and they play a prominent part of our everyday life.  I think that’s why it’s bothered me so much.  There were so many things that he would do every day that he’s no longer doing.  He was a sudden loss, and it feels a little like he was ripped out of our hands.  Piper, our female, is getting pretty old and we were more prepared to say good be to her.  In our mind there was supposed to be an order. First her, then him.

For me, it brought death, heartache & time (lack of and not knowing) to the forefront.  I began to think of all the things that happened the day Jet died.  I had no idea that all those things we did together that day were “Lasts”.  The last time we’d play in the yard, the last time I would feed him his chalupa treat.  The last time I would give him his favorite toy.  The last time he would walk along side me and casually lean against my leg.

While I know we will almost never see loss coming, Jet’s loss has made me want to take stock of the things that are important to me.  I want to intentionally appreciate, be present, and fully live the moments with the ones I love.

Stages of Grief.

According to the book “On Grief and Grieving”, by Elisabeth Kublen-Ross, there are five stages of grieving.  They are:

1. Denial.

2. Anger.

3. Depression.

4. Bargaining.

5. Acceptance.

Calling them stages sort of gives the impression that they are steps to a platform, and that once you have completed one, you will be on to the next, until you finally arrive at acceptance and all is well.  The truth is that the process is not linear.  For me, each of these stages seem to just wash over me in no apparent order.  One minute I would be mentally trying to work it out, trying to bend it so that it wasn’t true, while the next minute I would just be sad.

Here are some things that really helped me.

  • Taking time to feel it and grieve.  My tendency when bad stuff happens is to try to make sure everyone has what they need.  When death occurs, loved ones are not going to be okay.  They are emotionally suffering.  If you’re like me, I spent the first day and a half just making sure everyone else was okay.  It wasn’t until I went to work the following Monday that Jet’s loss started to really hit me.  That afternoon, I went home stood in the kitchen with my wife and we just waded into our pain.  We took the time to talk about the things that made us sad, give room for open tears and not try to bottle up the grief.
  • Taking opportunities for sadness and using them as triggers to focus on and express gratitude.  For the next several days, I would have waves of sadness wash up against me.  I would be reminded of some awesome thing that he did, and would begin to miss him.  I would take each of these trigger moments and I would stop and just thank God for allowing us to have the time we had together.  I expressed how grateful I was to have had such a remarkable dog.  He could have ended up with someone else who wouldn’t have appreciated his awesomeness and would have just chained him to a dog house some where.  That didn’t happen and because of it, I was grateful.
  • Lean on God. I prayed specifically for the Lord to help us move through the grief.  God really does care for us.  I am totally convinced of this truth.  Because of this, it seems inconceivable that my Heavenly Father wouldn’t care how this loss has hurt me and my family. 2 Corinthians 1:3 says  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.  He IS the God of all comfort.
  • Talk about it. Find and share with a trusted friend. I have a friend who is a man of like precious faith as me.  He reminded me of scripture in Deuteronomy and Proverbs that really helped my faith.  He reminded me that God made promises concerning  our animals.  I found this a real help and comfort.

The Bible is absolutely silent concerning the subject of our pets in Heaven.  Where the Bible is silent, we need to be silent too.  We can’t form any doctrine where there isn’t any verse to back it up.  The one thing required for something to be scriptural is scripture.

That being said, I found an article in Christianity Today regarding this question that I thought was well stated.  The full article can be found here.  In this article, Karen Swallow-Prior makes the following statement.

“When we choose to take into our household creatures that share with us the breath of life and bestow them with names, perhaps we enter into a kind of covenantal relationship with them too. To echo C. S. Lewis in The Great Divorce, perhaps when we name animals, they “become themselves” and our salvation “flows over into them.”
She goes on to say “As foretold in Isaiah, animals will be there. “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat … and a little child will lead them” (11:6). Perhaps God will honor my acts of naming the animals by bringing Gracie, Kasey, Myrtle, Peter, Oscar, and so many more there, too.”

What’s the take-away?

My encouragement to you is simply this.  Moving forward, try to pace your life so that you have more time to draw the value out of the everyday moments we all spend together.  Relationships can end so suddenly, and then those moments become so precious.

Tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dealing with Loss

  1. Johnny says:

    Thanks for sharing, Art. I appreciate what you are doing for young men. I have a heart to reach this generation of teenagers and young adults with the truth that will change their lives.
    -Johnny

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *