A Year of Loss
Updated: Oct 19
It has been about one year since the pandemic first shut us down. It’s been a hard year for almost all of us. We’ve felt losses at so many levels – a loss of normalcy, relational loss, loss of health, loss of life. The list goes on. Almost three months ago, on December 23rd, I got a call from my brother who could barely speak. Through long pauses he finally got it out. A mutual friend of ours – someone I regarded with deep affection and respect and whom I had roomed with for 3 years during my UCD years – had died in a tragic paddle boarding accident on a river in Oregon. To make matters worse, his daughter died with him. I was gutted. I spent Christmas week oscillating between joy at the birth of Christ and profound sorrow over the death of my friend. Kim’s heart and mine broke for my friend’s wife who lost both members of her family in one afternoon. More recently, our congregation lost a beloved member of our church family. In early February, Larry died in a tragic car accident. As many of you did, my thoughts went to Larry’s wife, his children, and grandchildren -- I felt heart-broken once again.
Loss can take many forms. The death of a friend or loved one. The death of a dream or relationship. And this year, we’ve all experienced shared losses related to Covid-19. Psychologists predict that the grief related to the pandemic is more significant than anyone yet realizes. How will we process it?
No one has done more to help me make sense of loss than Jerry Sittser. On a single night he lost a child, wife, and parent to a drunk driver. In the months and years of pain that followed, he penned A Grace Disguised, a book I affectionately call, “My Loss Book.” My good friend Wendy Smiley refers to A Grace Disguised as the second most important book she’s ever read (next to the Bible). Through this little book, I learned that God wants to redeem and enlarge our souls through times of loss. I close with a few of my favorite quotes from Jerry’s book.
“I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather, I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it.” “Gifts of grace come to all of us. But we must be ready to see and willing to receive these gifts. It will require a kind of sacrifice, the sacrifice of believing that, however painful our losses, life can still be good — good in a different way than before, but nevertheless good. I will never recover from my loss and I will never get over missing the ones I lost. But I still cherish life… I will always want the ones I lost back again. I long for them with all my soul. But I still celebrate the life I have found because they are gone. I have lost, but I have also gained. I lost the world I loved, but I gained a deeper awareness of grace. That grace has enabled me to clarify my purpose in life and rediscover the wonder of the present moment.”
The Family Pastor of First Baptist Church of Davis