Monday, December 29, 2008

Honoring Loss

Honoring Loss

In 2008 “loss” has been very palpable. The Dow Jones Industrial average has lost 36%, the S&P 500 40.5% and the Nasdaq 42.5% - this stock market decline being the worst since 1931. Housing values have also lost $2 trillion in value with about 12 million Americans currently owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. The number of homes going into foreclosure is around 2.2 million, in part because two million jobs have been lost and a million more job cuts are expected in 2009.

I also was laid off from career positions – twice, and consecutively. The life I had envisioned consisted of increasing gains with nothing much ever going wrong, and finally entering old age peacefully with praise and honor.

Piece by piece, all of those expectations disintegrated. First it was financial stability, then long term relationships, finally even core beliefs – loss bit into all, and is not done biting.

If loss never took away outer things, the world as we want it to be, ourselves as we think we are, it would be possible to live in an imaginary state forever, satisfied with imperfection and incompletion, never motivated enough to break free.

But there is a time to grow and a time to wither – this is obvious in nature. The Bible also speaks of a “time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away” (Ecc 3:6).

Looking back, the times which have been most excruciating in terms of loss are also the most memorable and inwardly transformative. Humans have tremendous inertia to resist the loss experience, to begrudge it, to just endure it and hope it will end soon so we can get on with the “gain and growth” side of the cycle.

But the heart longs for this experience of outward loss. Until that happens, its needs remain deluged and unrecognized in the doings and activities of exterior existence.

Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24).

It is not easy to welcome Loss and offer it a seat of honor at our table, especially since this is not a mere conceptual proceeding but rather one with teeth that usually hurt. But it is the pathway to freedom and salvation that has been established in the universe.

Therefore we may reasonably hope that our planet, our country and ourselves are currently being offered the greatest possible gift, in the form of . . . Loss.


  1. Thank you for sharing so much in so little space. I look forward to reading your blog everyday. Can relate to the sense of loss after being laid off (3 times for me- the next one likely happening soon). I've learned to take it as an opportunity to clear space for a better state (being, doing).
    Your writing appeals to both the right and left side of my brain (both logical and heartfelt).
    Keep writing please....

  2. So, I guess that's enough with appreciating your heartfelt writing & time to write from the heart myself.

    There is a scenario where one intentionally creates external loss in their own life because they sense/know exactly what you speak of. It is especially painful because those around you really think you're nuts (afterall, you have everything one could ask for!). Then you begin to doubt your own decision. Gets more painful. In my case, it is a long term relationship. I know the house of cards got to fall but I've been dragging my feet.
    But 2009 is the year (no, I won't wait until December!). This was very helpful to read as it is exactly how I feel. A little support is good.

  3. Past few days, I am experiencing a state of confused. Not so much about losing anything or 'anyone' for that matter, though down-sizing drastically even with intent,is still sad.
    For me, it is more about just not 'getting' it and I don't mean the tangible, but felt perception. I often wonder if I am spinning tales and dreaming up stories and voices and it's 'me', in my minds eye playing, and this is where 'what is', is sourced. Or if 'Source' is being re-sourceful in me. Crazy, I was thrilled to lose my job, I kinda saw it like a graduation from that part of the school of 'life'. I am really hoping I will be a worthy steward across the board in trusting that what is required will be given and that I will grow enough to discern all the many subtle nuances & differences.
    Thanks CD & I really appreciate all the sharing.

  4. Loss is so relative especially here in the US which has never suffered en masse (with the exclusion of the Native Americans) the experience of being totally helpless and at the mercy of another power be it nature or human. I think that as long as you are verbalizing about loss, you haven't hit rock bottom and it only proves you still have enough "things" whether material or idea-wise to fear further loss. My mother lost her home and nearly her life and alot of what she thought made life worth living during World War II. She said even at the worst when she feared imminent death by violence or starvation she was not depressed, fearful yes, but never depressed since everyone around her was in the same situation. Now she is losing even her memory, personality, and cognition to Alzheimer's. This is more depressing, when she remembers to be, then she just forgets. Just living one day at a time, every moment bringing uncertainty and helpless confusion or brief pleasures. This is the reality for thousands of people all the time somewhere on the planet RIGHT NOW, and for them all the most dreadful portents of 2012 is just a meaningless number since essentially its already here.