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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lamenting "Living Losses"

After the tragic loss of daughter Jenna in a bus accident in 1996, Ken Druck, Ph.D., author of The Real Rules of Life: Balancing Life’s Terms with Your Own, created Families Helping Families, a program to offer support to others going through a bereavement.

The response was overwhelming.  They started receiving calls from all over the world, not only from people who had lost loved ones, but who were grieving other kinds of losses, like having children who were either missing, strung out on drugs, debilitated by mental or physical illnesses or an accident, or who were estranged, incarcerated and/or lost to them is some other way.

These parents, he writes, were often suffering as much or even more than those with loved ones who had died.  He describes many as “feeling helpless, scared, confused, angry, humiliated, guilty — and living under a dark cloud of fear, dread, despair and sorrow – everything from their health, to their relationships, to their work and sense of purpose for living were all profoundly affected.”

Among the most painful aspects of such losses is that of the kind of future they had always dreamed of for their children and grandchildren. And with “living losses” far fewer people are likely to come by with hugs, casseroles, and offers of help and prayers. There are no rituals or ceremonies offering some kind of meaning in the loss or providing for the kind of spiritual solace available to those mourning a death. There is a sense of being abandoned by God and by others.

In the words of one of the anguished Psalms of lament,

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?

(Psalm 13:1-2a)
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