A Necessary Loss

In my own therapy, three years ago, my therapist handed me a passage from a book after I had been struck by a series of losses. I turned to the same passage today after a week that was filled with several punishing and piercing losses for someone close to me that shook the moors of my faith that I truly believe that which is so logical, a notion that I intellectually conceded decades ago, but that my mental and physical reaction this week told me that I truly have not let go of in my heart -- that I cannot protect, even those I love the most, from harm.

From Judith Viorst's Necessary Losses:

When we think of loss we think of the loss, through death, of people we love. But loss is a far more encompassing theme in our life. For we lose not only through death, but also by leaving and being left, by changing and letting go and moving on. And our losses include not only our separations and departures from those we love, but our conscious and unconscious losses of romantic dreams, impossible expectations, illusions of freedom and power, illusions of safely – and the loss of our own younger self, the self that thought it would always be unwrinkled, invulnerable and immortal.

Somewhat wrinkled, highly vulnerable and non-negotiably mortal, I have been examining these losses. These lifelong losses. These necessary losses. These losses we confront when we are confronted by the inescapable fact ..

That our mother is going to leave us, and we will leave her;

That our mother’s love can never be ours alone;

That what hurts us cannot always be kissed and made better;

That we are essentially out here on our own;

That we will have to accept-in other people and ourselves, the mingling of love with hate, of the good with the bad;

That our options are constricted by anatomy and guilt;

That there are flaws in every human connection;

That our status on this planet is implacably impermanent;

And that we are utterly powerless to offer ourselves or those we love protection – protection from danger and pain, from the inroads of time, from coming of age, from coming of death;

Protection from our necessary losses.

These are a part of life-universal, unavailable, inexorable. And these losses are necessary because we grow by losing and leaving and letting go.

For the road to human development is paved with renunciation. Throughout our life we grow by giving up. We give up some of our deepest attachments to others. We give up certain cherished parts of ourselves. We must conform, in the dreams we dream, as well as in our intimate relationships, all that we never will have and never will be. Passionate investment leaves us vulnerable to loss. And sometimes, no matter how clever we are, we must lose.

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