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Power in Loss
We live through grace
I held my sister’s hand in a chilly hospital room, and the nurse walked in with what looked like a contrived smile – just another family in grief. It happened suddenly, my mom laying there in that hospital bed. Tubes and wires coming in and out of her, for the first time I saw weakness and vulnerability in this strong woman that I admired throughout my life. In that single moment, alone with my thoughts, I thought about the days where I was stricken by depression and addiction, worried that I would never make it to the end of the day – and there she was, to provide a comforting hand on my face, a finger to lift up my chin and say “Tyson, you are the most resilient person I have ever known, and I am proud of you”. A week later, she was gone. As transient as time itself, her life was over. Gone. My rock, my shield, my support, in a single moment – vanished. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the searing pain of losing someone you love. Most of us go through it at some point in our lives. I had lost my father to lung cancer just two years prior, and in that loss I was there to provide comfort and warmth to my family – that itself was therapy. But this, this was an unimaginable obstacle. The hurdle seemed like a mountain, and I was there - cold, and desolate.
We all deal with loss differently. Some of us bury our pain in denial, others spiral out of control, and some of us find peace in things that give us a sense of meaning and purpose. There is undoubtedly, power in loss. Pain is such an integral part of existence, we don’t live until we feel it. As a believer in God, every part of me wanted to shun him. My sisters, and friends, turned to me to try to make sense of this loss, but all I had was anger. I looked at others around me, and I asked, “why me?” I am a good person, I have a decent heart, and I am a man of God. So many people told me that the moments where we experience the greatest pain are the moments where our faith is tested the most. I never knew what that meant until time passed and I was able to process the power that our loss had.
There are countless songs, messages, and sermons centered on trying to make sense of painful loss as it relates to scripture. To people who have lost family, friends, people who we care about, it is the most difficult test of our faith. The way I have made sense of it stems from the person who I lost. My mom always told me to deal with adversity by learning from pain we feel. That our hearts change when we go through something difficult. Sometimes we need our hearts to be a little harder, or a little softer, and loss has a way of humbling us. She told me that it can be the most useful tool to make you realize how God’s grace and mercy works through us. As trite and abstract as it sounds, the concept is surprisingly simple. God provides us with power in our losses. The grief never disappears, but it does soften. When it softens, life has a way of allowing to see it for what it is and allows us to absorb strength. Power to overcome adversity, power to be a source of strength and comfort to others who deal with it, and power to experience and understand life, this is the power of loss. My best friend, who lost his mother recently, told me that the grief he experienced will change him forever. There is perspective to everything. Grief can change you, but it can also reveal you.
In an ideal world, I could say that that losing my parents has given me power to be a better man in every aspect of my life. I could say that losing them has given me solitude, and a point of reflection that I use daily to be a better brother, uncle, and friend. The truth is, that it hasn’t given me all of that. I still struggle, yet my struggle highlights the beautiful part of humanity. We are imperfect. God made us imperfect. God has given us weakness, feebleness, and pain to give us life. Life without pain and adversity is not life as it was planned for us. To this day, every day is a struggle. There are no easy days. Yet as I open up my gym locker and I sift through the many inspirational quotes scattered around that I’ve taped on the inside, one of the most poignant quotes stands out from the most inspirational book of all:
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18.
There would be no point to us experiencing God’s incredible power without us experiencing pain, and in the most heartbreaking ways – through loss. There, we see its power. As a man, there are many ways in which I was stronger. I find myself to be a shadow of who I was. I struggle with emotional and psychological issues which cripples me in formulating a meaningful relationship with someone I care about, and has caused me to make mistakes which shake the foundation of what I represent as a person. Out of all people, I feel like I could go through life having the most resentment. Yet, I feel blessed. My parents left this world and instilled values in me that will never cause me to waiver. It is through them that I LIVE. We live in a world where the quick fix is usually the way to go – a pill here, a quick thrill there, masking our tribulations – we live in emptiness. For some of us, the pain is so much that we tragically take our own lives. Yet if we look at the big picture, we see that in loss there is HOPE. God has given each and every one of us the tools to cope, and there is beauty and power in that, even in the worst loss. My mom thought I was the most resilient person she ever knew, I would fail myself if I was anything less.
Power in loss, humility in defeat, and strength through pain, are one of the most beautiful dynamics of humanity that God has given us in life:
“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” – Anne Lamott.