Loss: It’s mostly a four-letter word

Loss.  This is a word that encompasses many different aspects of human life. You may have lost a loved one, a job, or just a game of chess. We all lose things – our keys, our pets, our way – but we mostly find that life goes on as if nothing has happened. There may be a small or large gathering at a funeral, or a plethora of Facebook posts, but once we step outside the world of those around us who are grieving, or expressing their condolences, people seem to be functioning as usual. How are those other people, going about life as normal, supposed to know that something life-changing or gut-wrenching just happened to us? Do they even care? Perhaps each of these people is not very far removed from a life-changing experience of his or her own.

My dad, for example, has experienced a great deal of loss in his lifetime; he still functions, has recently retired after working for the same company for 45 years, and is pretty normal from all I can tell. When he was 18, his father was killed in a car accident. Then, when I was five, and my dad was 27, his youngest brother was killed by a drunk driver. His brother was 17, and I was five, and I remember it like it was yesterday. Again, my father experienced a loss when a neighbor’s child wandered out of the house and drowned in a small stream. He tried to resuscitate the two-year-old, but too much time had passed. Paramedics arrived quickly, but no one’s efforts were enough. Why?  The extent of any loss can only be defined by the one experiencing it, and no one can know how we feel when these things happen.

Who can say why these things happen. Is it part of some master plan of which we have no knowledge, and are left guessing about “why me”? Is it because there is no order in the universe, and everything happens simply by chance? There is also the possibility that everything that happens is because of a choice that someone has made, good or bad. Your choice affects my life, just as some insignificant choice I make may change the course of yours forever. Loss, however, is generally said with a derogatory tone, and its meaning is understood even when not spoken.

The word “loss,” while usually signalling the end of something, can have other implications too. A child who has lost a tooth is going to grow another one – a bigger one – in its place. For some people, the loss of a parent signals the beginning of a type of freedom they never experienced under their parent’s less-than-loving hand. For others, like me, the loss of a job can lead to the beginning of a wonderful realization that the chosen path was not the right one. And, for others, loss is simply a testament to the fact that life is hard, and it doesn’t always go our way; and that sucks.

Loss. Yes, this is usually a four letter word. We all lose from time to time, but it is inevitable. Losing stinks, and we grieve for our own losses, but also for the losses of those whom we love. There is not always a silver lining in the clouds, my friends. And this is the time when you sit, or lay, or puddle, and become engrossed in the overwhelming fuckedupedness of the situation before you. Maybe after a day, a week, a month, or two years, you can begin to recover some of your mental existence that preceded this moment. But for now, you succomb, and experience the pain, which may or may not release you with time.