By Joyce Thomas
I recently read a book on grief and loss called Lose, love, live: The spiritual gifts of loss and change
by Dan Moseley. Mosley’s book is for anyone who has experienced loss, be it the loss of a family member, pet, game, body part, or even a dream. It addresses the experience of someone or something becoming permanently absent in a person’s life. For spouses of pastors, this could include the loss of time with their spouse, the loss of privacy, or the loss of relationships when moving to a new city.
Through loss, Moseley explains, life becomes something new. Change is a part of life, and where there is change, there is usually loss. Sometimes this is expected, and sometimes it isn’t. Regardless, loss happens, and its effect can be disorienting. Yet even in these difficult times, it is important to reflect on our lives. With each change or loss there is an opportunity to start anew. Through loss we experience a re-birthing of our lives, and we begin to live in different ways that open us to new possibilities. In this way, every change or loss offers new beginnings.
In his book, Mosley explores ten steps along the grieving process. First is “naming the loss,” which involves thinking deeply about the loss and all it entails. Second is “feeling pain.” In feeling the pain of a loss, it is possible to know more deeply the truth of it. Third is “anger”, the emotion that comes with experiencing the loss of someone or something loved. Finding a way to release this anger helps to discover new energy for a new life. Fourth is “remembering” the story of loss. Doing so reorganizes the mind and prevents it from focusing on a scattered dream and/or hope for the person or thing lost. Fifth is “guilt”, which includes confronting past shortcomings in our relationship with the lost person or thing. Sixth is “forgiving”, which could entail forgiving oneself for things done or not done before the loss, forgiving the person or thing that was lost, or perhaps both. Seventh is “gratitude” for the experiences shared with the person or thing that has been lost. Eighth is “play”, which involves imagining new ways of being after a loss. Ninth is “practice”, which is the exploration of new ways of living that had been imagined. During this step, a person considers different ways forward into new life. Tenth and final is “becoming new,” wherein a person begins to enjoy the integration of all ten dimensions. This step includes waking up to the various possibilities of God all around. For each of these ten dimensions, Mosley suggests that having a good companion along the way – to listen, cry, talk, and otherwise share in the experience – helps immeasurably in the process of becoming new.
New beginnings come when we learn to grow through our grief. Over time, we learn to live in the absence of that which we have loved and lost. This process is painful, and as we grow through the grieving process and release our old life, we make room for rebirth. We learn to live differently into a new normal and discover life again.
Dr. Joyce Scott Thomas is the Associate Director of the Academy of Preaching and Celebration.
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