Are You Ready To Lose? No!

Listen to this obituary

When a significant loss occurs, one thing is almost for certain = you were NOT ready for that loss!

We take CPR and first aid classes to be ready for medical emergencies. We buy a “safe” car and buckle up and drive defensively to be ready for an automobile crash. We have a 911 call system in place to be ready to call for help in an emergency.

How much education have you had to prepare you to be ready to deal with the grief that inevitably comes from significant emotional loss?

Millions of people become new grievers every year. Deaths (almost 1 in 100 people will die this year), divorce (more than half of marital and non-married cohabitation relationships will not survive). There’s disease ( = Heart disease accounts for 23.5% of deaths, cancer (21.3%), accidents (6%), lung conditions (5.7%), stroke (5.2%), Alzheimer’s (4.3%), diabetes (3%), flu and pneumonia (2%), kidney disease (1.8%), suicide (about 50,000 people will commit suicide this year.) About 15 million pets will die this year. Then, there is job loss, retirement, financial changes, and many other losses for which we’re not prepared!

Why are we not prepared for our losses?

James and Friedman in Grief Recovery Handbook say… * We are taught HOW TO ACQUIRE things, NOT WHAT TO DO when we lose them!

When as a child, my goldfish died, my well-meaning parents said “Don’t feel bad. We’ll get you a new one!” And I flushed Goldie down the toilet. I was taught:      

1. Don’t feel bad.
2. We’ll replace the loss.

If we had a broken emotional relationship in our youth, we were told… “Don’t feel bad. There are plenty of fish in the sea.”

3. I was taught, “If you are going to cry, then go to your room to do it.” Grieve alone. Then, in my younger years, I would just get in my car when I was upset & drive — sending myself to my “room”.

So I learned “Don’t feel bad. Replace the loss. Grieve alone. and now…

4. “Just give it time.” Whoever said, “Time heals all wounds” was wrong about other stuff, too! If you or I came across a person who had just been in an auto accident and was injured, we would NOT say: “Just give it time. You’ll heal, all by yourself!”

5. You’re going to need to be strong for others. You are the little man of the house now. That’s how I felt in 1988 when my dad died suddenly and I had promised him I would take care of my mother. I was so distraught that when the time came she had to be moved into a nursing home due to her Alzheimer’s — I couldn’t make myself go and help my siblings see to it.

6. Well-meaning friends will tell you, “Just keep busy!” But I wanted to add: “Doing what?”

You know yourself better than anyone else does. 

Participate in your own recovery and get the help that you need.

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Doug Greenway

These blog articles are written by the retired minister and former educator and counselor, Doug Greenway. He'd love to hear from you with your comments, questions, or suggestions for future topics. You may reach Doug at

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