Loss comes in many forms. It’s complicated and deeply meaning-laden. The death of a loved one will touch us all at some point. Because gain and growth are inevitable in life, so then is loss. When a romantic relationships dissolves, we loose the possibility of building future rituals and memories. When we loose “it” we momentarily loose self-control and behave badly. When we have had the misfortune of being reared by incapable parents, our fantasies of the joy of play are lost to the reality of neglect. And yet loss is transformative too. One of my teenage clients, I’ll call her “Beth”, recently explained that she is not (yet) too fazed by her dad’s unexplained exit from the family. A year in, she sees the change in family structure as an opportunity for members to do things differently. Her relationship with her father is not therapy “high priority” right now but the relationship with her mother certainly is. Beth and her mother want to improve their relationship and Beth’s assertion is that this would not have happened had her father not left. Dad’s absence has allowed family members to live their lives differently because time use has shifted. Not bad for a kid who knows her generation Z cohorts have been labeled as fearful and socially bungled. Meaning making is an important transformative process after loss. Don’t expect it though. It requires modesty, resilience, self-compassion, and an active willingness to move beyond it. In a few days it will be the one-year anniversary of my father’s death. He was a tough and harsh man at times and yet as an adult I came to love him. It’s only in his loss that I have come to appreciate him fully. My twenty-something step-son moved out of the house and back in with a friend today. Like a library book that I’m still reading but the due date has arrived, I have to return it, play by the rules. I don’t like this but it’s called life.
THEY ARE ONLY LEANT TO US
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