Have you ever been around someone who likes to finish your sentences? It’s pretty annoying, isn’t it? And they often get it wrong, taking your words in a direction you weren’t planning to go. It takes a minute to tamp down your frustration, collect your thoughts, and get the conversation back on track.
Loss has that effect on us, too—on a much larger scale. It interrupts. It takes life in a direction we weren’t planning to go. But unlike a conversation, we can’t reverse the interruption and shift things back to the way they were. Life is forever changed.
However, as difficult as it was to accept, the day I admitted that my life would never be the same was also the day I started to move forward. Though it stung to acknowledge the post-interruption reality of my life, I had to accept it. All grievers do.
This doesn’t mean we can’t still have a good life; it doesn’t mean this present heaviness will keep us pinned down forever. Sure, we now have a limp, an empty space, a lingering sadness. And we all know that a big loss cascades down into many smaller losses. Even so, all is not lost.
So here we are, you and I, facing an interrupted life. Limping, but (hopefully) going forward.
We might say, Well, what choice do we have? We’ve got to go on. And that’s true . . . to a point. But here’s the thing about interruptions: sometimes they help us learn new things. “Going on” doesn’t have to mean just coping; it can actually mean that we’re changing. And growing.
There are conversations I might never have had, lessons I might never have learned, stories I might never have heard if some sentence-ending friend hadn’t interrupted me and moved our conversation into unplanned territory.
I’m not trying to put a positive spin on loss and grief. I’m the last guy who would try to do that. But I do believe that interruptions, while disorienting, can ultimately make us wiser. I believe that good can come from bad.
I’ll say more about the good changes grief can bring in another post, but here I’ll just say that I’ve seen this play out in the lives of many who’ve walked the hard road of loss. I’ve seen chronic complainers become grateful; I’ve watched grouches develop kindness; and I’ve seen timid people learn to be courageous.
There is life, good life, on the other side of the interruption.
© 2021 by Tim Grissom. All rights reserved.