Finding Joy After Loss
By: Lisa Elliott
I’ve never liked good-byes. But I grew to absolutely dread them after the death of my 19-year-old son, Ben. As if that final good-bye weren’t enough for this mother’s heart to bear, two days after his funeral our oldest daughter, Natalie, left the nest to travel the nation with a ministry team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. There she met her husband. Six years later, they remain in rural Manitoba with their two boys, Seth and Jaxon.
The distance from our home in Ontario, and airfare costs, prevent frequent visits. And no matter how long the visit, another airport good-bye looms ominously. I try to enjoy every conversation, immerse myself in every activity, celebrate every meal, and bask in their presence, sopping up every millisecond of snuggles with my grandsons and treasuring each new memory in my heart. But I admit that the pain of a pending good-bye overshadows everything.
How can you fully savor each moment, not allowing the next moment to rob you of its joy? By living in the moment. I learned this after Ben’s leukemia diagnosis. I find it comforting to rehearse the principles and apply their salve with every hello and goodbye.
Take the time to taste the tears: Life is full of goodbyes, disappointments, loss, and pain. We need time to grieve our losses and feel the pain so we don’t end up trapped in the moment rather than having freedom to move on to the next. There’s healing in tears. God collects our tears in a bottle (Ps. 56:8). One day, He’ll wipe every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4).
Accept your circumstances: Like it or not, life happens, circumstances interrupt the rhythms of life, hardships and trials invade our normal routines, and babies leave the nest. We can’t avoid the pain. But it is in our pain that God teaches and trains us in holiness, and to look beyond our present pain with hope of a greater purpose (Rom. 8:28-29).
Embrace the new normal: To do this, you must let go of your expectations that life will remain the same. It was never intended to be that way. Don’t risk missing out on all God has in store for you because you’re holding onto the past.
Celebrate what is: Each moment is a gift never again to be retrieved. Live each one to its fullest with no regrets and no worries. Seize and celebrate the gifts of each day, and turn your “Goodbye” into a “See you next time!”
Lisa Elliott is a Just Between Us contributing author, a ministry wife and popular inspirational speaker. She is a graduate of Ontario Bible College. Additionally, she and her husband, David, have served together in ministry for over 25 years. They live in Ottawa, Ontario, and have four children (one now in heaven). You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.