Grief and loss are not simply pertinent to the death of a loved one. Today’s session will look at how we deal with loss in various forms, from the loss of role when we retire to the loss of loved ones moving away to the death of
those we are close to.
When children leave the family home to set out on their own journey we often call this the ‘empty nest’ syndrome. For many it is a doubled-edged sword as the loss of someone in the house day after day is heart-breaking
whilst at the same time the joy of seeing your loved ones fly to new heights is also heart-warming.
Real Life Loss and Gain
Marjory and Clive soldier at Warrington Corps and this is their story.
Marjory and Clive are both retired and having lived busy working lives realised that the loss of employment due to retirement would hit them hard. So they prepared themselves and found roles where they could
help others within the Corps at Warrington. Jesus came to give life in all its fullness, so the couple felt they needed to live life to the full as they entered
retirement. This was their way of dealing with the loss of a role and the gain of retirement.
Both of their children were called to become Salvation Army Officers and they ‘lost’ both of them at the same time as they went to train in London at the William Booth College. The time came for their appointments to be announced. Their daughter was appointed to Perth. Both Marjory and Clive felt this was a long way from home but were comforted by the thought ‘well
it’s not Australia!’
Their son was appointed to Thurso in North Scotland and now their thoughts started to turn to ‘we’re never going to see either of them!’ There was sadness mixed with joy and pride of their children doing what God had
called them to do, and both parents were comforted by the fact that at least their son and daughter were still within the UK.
Eventually their son was appointed to Canada, and despite their sadness both Marjory and Clive felt they could not stand in the way of God’s calling on their children’s lives.
What Marjory and Clive were experiencing was the double-edged sword of loss. They decided they had to keep themselves busy and involved in activities at their Corps and knew they had to accept the situation. When talking about acceptance, Clive speaks of how it took 20 years to accept the death of his father. He would long for his dad to be around just to chat to.
There is no social media in heaven so no opportunity to ‘Facetime’ his father as he does with his family in Canada.
Acceptance plays a large part in grief and loss whatever that loss may be. But acceptance can be hard even though death is inevitable for us all.
‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’
Clive has held onto these words over the years as he has learnt to accept not only the death of his father but also the death of friends and the loss of family to other parts of the world.
Acceptance played a part when Clive’s mother also died. This time the acceptance was that he did what she requested him to do. Rather than staying by her bedside as she died, Clive’s mother urged him to do his duty and go out with the Salvation Army band. This acceptance speaks of life continuing despite the loss and grief that life brings. Marjory and Clive use a three ‘R’ response as their way of dealing with changes and loss.
Marjorie speaks of comforting words from Hebrews,
‘Never will I leave you,
never will I forsake you.’
No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, God is there. He never leaves us and he walks with us through both the mountain-top and valley experiences of life.
With grateful thanks to Clive and Marjory Samuel
Words by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
God grant me the serenity to accept
the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.