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Lost and Found

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

Phalaenopsis orchid closeup
A close-up of my memorial orchid

It doesn't take much to realize how fortunate we are, does it? A news article covering a tragic incident. A violent storm that knocks a few tree branches uncomfortably close to the house. A sudden health scare. A near-accident that is avoided just in time. Life is so fragile, yet our predictable routines and expectations make it feel as though life is as it always has been, and will continue on in the same way forever. Loss, in any capacity, is just that: a forced emptying of yourself, a void, or a retraction of something that you thought was yours. Situations as simple and commonplace as losing keys, the remote, or a favorite toy are sufficient to send most of us into a tailspin. A few short years ago, our household was 'Exhibit A' for how traumatic a simple loss can be: whenever my son misplaced his pacifier before bedtime, his ear-piercing screams filled our home (and probably our neighborhood) until my husband and I recognized the problem. We were tasked with frantically searching every crevice of our home until we finally discovered where he had hid his precious "bintee" during playtime. Pictured below is one of the more exceptional binky hiding places we uncovered: I still proudly claim full credit for this find.

Child's rolling ball toy

Sometimes, loss is just an unfortunate side-effect of the broken world that we live in. Other times, loss is a consequence of poor choices we have made. I haven't been alive for very long, but I have lived long enough to experience both types of loss. Both types are equally painful, though the pain is mixed with regret for the latter form. Grief is powerful, often overwhelming, and unpredictable. It is also dynamic, sometimes fluctuating from anger to sadness to disassociation within the course of a few hours. Yet while grief is often a debilitating enemy, it can also be a powerful tool. Through grief, we are shattered and rebuilt into a different version of ourselves; how we are rebuilt depends on how we view and process the grief. We can allow it to break us down, or we can allow it to reshape us into stronger, more empathetic people. In loss, we discover who our closest friends and family truly are; sometimes we even forge new friendships based on common losses. When grief is seen as a tool, instead of as a weapon, we also gain new hope through our growth: by surviving circumstances that we had previously thought would irreparably crush us, we become less afraid of the future. "If I can survive that," we realize, "I can survive anything." Right now, I am journeying through a season of loss. However, because of my family, my friends, a wonderful therapist, some helpful coping strategies, and, most importantly, my faith, this season is not as devastating or long as I had expected it would be. As I said before, grief comes in waves: there are good days, bad days, and days when I simply feel detached from the situation. While much has been lost, so much has also been found. I have experienced deep connection with the people in my life; I have gained a beautiful addition to my home in the form of a lovely memorial houseplant; I have experienced God's peace and strength in unexpected ways; and I have learned that strength comes by walking through the valley, not by having the mental fortitude already established in advance. Life is a gift that is so easily taken for granted. While grief and loss are never pleasant, may these circumstances remind us to be grateful for the days we have been given, and may we also view grief as a tool to help us become stronger and more hopeful people.

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