Death of a loved one is the most obvious loss we can encounter, but, of course, there are many losses that blindside us. Somehow we could not anticipate how gutted we would feel. Such losses bring about unprecedented pain. The pain of brokenness.
Brokenness is a concept that needs no explaining when, within a moment, life changes, and then into a season of soul-confounding reckoning we enter. By a season, I mean months, possibly longer, and certainly with many losses, there is something irrevocable from the moment of loss, onwards.
I recall a colleague of mine some years back losing a directorship in a major company because he was burning out. He couldn’t sustain what they demanded of him. Close to fifty at that point, this emotionally mature man, a respected health professional of over twenty years, had never experienced anxiety and depression beforehand. Suddenly he plunged into an abyss. He lost weight overnight, lost the motivation he usually took for granted, carried fear about with him, and was frequently in tears. He listed in a season of unprecedented pain. He was astonished, given his wealth of experience in corporate wellbeing and psychology!
Grief is a pain unequivocally unprecedented. A suffering that changes everything.
It reflects the cost of the loss. Losing someone we love, a relationship, our livelihood, or the capacity to function; all these and more leave us feeling absolutely wrecked 24/7, sleep (if we can) our only coherent respite.
Endurance, from a pragmatic viewpoint, is about surviving, when much of the time that’s all we can do. Endurance is made a little easier in reaching out, if we can resist the powerful instinct to isolate. Loneliness adds to an already crushing burden. Endurance also requires some recourse to hope. Being around caring others is vital for enduring such a calamitous season.
Be gentle with yourself as you sit, and go gently as you go. Endure the present calamity, for more reasoned days are coming. While you suffer pain you’ve never experienced before, add no burden to yourself. Hold out for hope, for hope never disappoints.