Yes, you can handle loss. Here’s how.

My luggage got lost somewhere in Airportland. The return flight from New Jersey was by way of Chicago to Los Angeles to Oregon. I de-planed in Chicago to this v-mail: “Due to delays, you won’t make your connection in LA and so we’ve rescheduled your flight for tomorrow.” What?! 

A quick phone call to the airline established a new route home. One seat left. I made the flight. My luggage didn’t.



Pixabay stock photo

Another recent loss was a bit more drastic. In transferring photos and documents from an old laptop to a new one, I lost all my writing files. (Long story. Suffice it to say that Hubby, computer geek who could have handled this transfer with his eyes closed is face-palming somewhere in heaven.)

I was able to retrieve the current book I’m working on. But gone is the 32-page book proposal I was ready to submit. Gone are whole books, and interviews, and years of journal entries, and drafts of future blogs. Hours and hours of work.

Losing luggage and Word documents, though, pales in comparison to losing Hubby to cancer.

Also, settling in and around us — as we navigated cancer — was the residual of financial setbacks when he was out of work. And the need for me to get a real job with good benefits. And my live-in mother, sinking deeper into dementia. When what I really wanted to do—selfish me—was spend what time there was left with Hubby, traveling, sharing our story, hiking tall mountains.

But here’s what I learned through it all:

1. Loss teaches us appreciation. It’s true that we tend to not appreciate something until it’s gone. Like our health. Or a current way of life. Or something as simple as electricity and running water. The setbacks taught me to sit up and pay attention. To live in the present and notice how good I have it. To keep thanksgiving lists running in my head and on paper.

2. Loss can be freeing when it comes to material things. When my mother, needing more care, moved out, Hubby and I downsized to an 800-sq-foot space. We had a beautiful, old upright grand piano, one my parents bought secondhand when I started piano lessons at age five. It was despairing to let go of this particular piece of furniture. But as Hubby and I settled into smaller living spaces, oh how freeing it was to not own as much stuff.

3. Loss can expand our hearts. It can cause us to dare to imagine that good can come out of our ashes. I’ve always liked the 1998 Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie You’ve Got Mail. Because it speaks to me about losing what we don’t want to lose, and how the *letting go* can open doors for larger things. Loss has the capacity to set us on a new path. Maybe not a path we would have written into our story, but a good path nevertheless.

This from Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts:

With memories of gravestones … I wonder if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see. To see through to God. But how? How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing-through-to-God places?

Choose is the key word there. We have been given free will. And with our free will, we make daily choices. Will I focus on what I’ve lost, or be grateful for what remains?

Will I clutch my anger tightly in my fist, or open my hand and surrender to grace?

Will I center on me, or look outward to bless someone else who is hurting?

When I wanted to skip piano practice, my mother, who was fond of old expressions, would say, “Practice makes perfect.” The more we choose to look through our pain and loss to God, and the more we practice gratitude and contentment and selflessness, the more it all becomes second nature.

I genuinely hope you don’t lose anything of value in 2016. But if you do, I’m here to say — from my experience — that loss doesn’t have to be devastating. And while we’ll have little-to-no control over what we might lose, we certainly can control how we react and adjust to it.

Which is why I choose gratefulness for today. Today, while I still have all the people and so much good in my life.

Voskamp goes on to say this:

To fully live—to live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal. It is possible. Wildly.

Yes, grace and joy and beauty in the hard journey. Wildly possible.

What are the good things in your life and how grateful are you for them? 

P.S. If you found this post helpful or inspirational, please share, tweet or pin!


Risk-taking 101


Why it matters how you live


  1. Al Huntley

    Marlys, if you have the old computer or hard drive a computer expert should be able to get your data back for you.


  2. Sherree Niepomnik

    You inspire me, Marlys, more and more every day. I realize now that loss can be gain. Our life, and my mother’s, has changed with having my mother move in with us this past year. Our family has always lived in different states making it difficult, at times, to visit and feel closer. My mother is 91 and has lost her independence. So, she moved with one daughter in WY for 2 1/2 years, and now transferred to me (her youngest of three daughters). While it’s been an adjustment for all three of us, we are embracing the love of being together again and making precious memories. Before I get out of bed every morning, I thank God for another day of health and well being and pray for love and patience and that His will be done. God certainly shines through you, girlfriend, and I’m blessed to know you and feel the love you bestow on so many people.

    • Kind words, Sherree. Thank you. Although it had its share of challenges, I have good memories of my mom living with us. She was funny without trying to be. (She could mix her metaphors as well as anyone.) I started keeping track of some of the things she said. It’s fun to read back through them from time to time.

  3. Susan Z

    Thanks for the wise multiple reminders, Marlys!

  4. Debbie Ritz

    Thanks Marlys this was well timed for our challenging week. Chris or Andrew might be able to help with data search???

  5. Jo Bias

    Thanks for all positive thoughts. Gratitude is needed daily to keep us in Gratefulness to our Savior…Each day is a Present – right! Tomorrow is only a promise….Blessings to you…Jo

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