"Trust in the good ending for the whole story. Even if the chapters don't finish the way we want them to." Sharon Garlough Brown

What You Need to Know About Loss

I landed in my seat at Bible study feeling like a refugee. Two tiny sons were happily entertained in the nursery, my study questions were only half answered, and I could just barely recall the point of the lesson, but community drew me to that space like a magnet. In that season, I craved the interaction–and I knew I needed prayer and support for my mothering journey and the state of my heart.

Prayer time began with a flood of need:  a wife whose marriage was flailing and failing; a tearful mother with a very sick child; our facilitator’s husband was dying of cancer. What was I thinking?  By comparison, my own prayer needs were barely worth mentioning, my suffering minor and my losses miniscule when stacked against the challenges others were facing.

Loss is like that. We rate ours on a bandwidth, pitting it against the stories of others, and it’s a  no-win game. If our suffering has been severe, we are reluctant to draw attention to it. If, like mine that day so long ago, it feels minor, we’re embarrassed to complain about it. The characters in Remember Me: A Novella about Finding Our Way to the Cross embody this struggle and blaze a trail to hope for those struggling with depression or suffering from loss. Feeling our feelings, leaning into the gift of community, and enlisting the support of “companions in sorrow” are all ways of moving forward in our commitment to wholeness and health.

Author, Sharon Garlough Brown studied painting and enlisted artistic input from Elizabeth Ivy to bring realism to protagonist Wren Crawford’s body of work. In this sequel to Shades of Light, Wren reflects on Christ’s suffering in order to live her way into an understanding of the crushing weight of grief she carries. Drinking the cup of remembrance with Wren provides readers with the gift of space for reckoning with our own losses, big and small, past and present, and in the reckoning, here’s what we need to remember about loss:

1.  Loss stretches in both directions

Like falling dominos, one loss awakens the memory of former suffering and sets the table for future sadness as we grieve empty chairs and events uncelebrated. We affirm the losses of others when we give them the gift of time and resist the urge to apply a deadline to sorrow.

I don’t think we ever stop grieving what we lost. I don’t say this to discourage you but to affirm your sorrow. The grieving changes. The manifestation of grieving evolves. Some losses are soothed and healed by the passage of time. Others leave gaps that are never filled.” (15)

2.  Loss is complicated by mystery.

When we lose a loved one, we lose their memories, their stories, and their future. The “what-if” that hangs in the air evades closure and serves as a gritty reminder, like a pebble in the shoe, of our inability to control so much of our own life script. Garlough’s beloved fictional spiritual director, Katherine Rhodes takes on the momentous task of writing obituaries to all her past losses: the relationships, roles, and identities that were ripped from her long before she was ready to relinquish them.

Can you picture writing an obituary for the death of some dream or to commemorate some loss you are working your way through right now?

3. In seasons of loss, do not join the accuser in his work.

The truth is that sometimes our losses come in connection with our own sinful choices and poor decisions. God is sovereign even in this, and we cannot sin our way outside his grace.

Sometimes what the accuser speaks is true, especially regarding our sin. But the accusation is meant to destroy us with shame and guilt. In those moments I use the accuser’s voice as a prompt to remind me I have a Savior who has paid the price for all my sin.” (45)

4. Loss is also a testimony that can bring glory to God.

With prosperity-gospel heresy deep in our bones, we forget that our suffering reveals the power of Christ in important ways that are not present in a story of quick deliverance. Where would any of us be if Jesus had been delivered from the cross?

Even if [loss] is not the testimony you would choose, it is beautiful. And it is yours to share.”  (76)

In this season of Lent, Remember Me brings to mind the darkness and the light around those very words, spoken first by Jesus with hope because he knew it was his to give, and then spoken to Jesus by the thief from a place of guilt–where hope grew, regardless. Whatever your loss, whatever suffering has brought you to the end of yourself, you can say those words to Jesus anytime. Let them lead you into a place of hope that no sorrow can diminish.

Many thanks to InterVarsity Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Grace and peace to you,

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase Remember Me: A Novella about Finding Our Way to the Cross, simply click on the title or the image within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Photo by Mitchell Maglio on Unsplash

33 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About Loss”

  1. Your thoughts on loss made me think of this quote from Mari Andrews that I have been saving to write about at some point:
    “Seasons of loss, like the colder seasons, are the hardest ones to endure, even if you logically understand they won’t last forever.”

    Beautifully written, Michele. And I can remember those long-ago morning Bible study sessions I attended for a sense of community with other Christian women too! 🙂


  2. Beautifully written and It is important to not measure our loss against someone else’s loss.
    Each is important and felt deeply in its own way.
    thanks for sharing.


  3. Wow, so many good nuggets here. I like the idea of an obituary to losses. It was a comfort to memorialize my m-i-l last year, and I can see how doing that for other losses would bring closure, help us process them, and act as an “Ebenezer” marker of God’s grace.

    I also love the thought of “not joining the accuser in his work.” When we suffer as a result of our own wrongdoing, sometimes we feel like we’re only supposed to feel pain and not take comfort. But . . . grace. Love this: ” I use the accuser’s voice as a prompt to remind me I have a Savior who has paid the price for all my sin.”


  4. “Trust in the good ending for the whole story.” What a phrase!! I love it and will be sharing forth! Thank you for linking up and stay well….you, and yours.


  5. Michele,
    This jumped out at me: I use the accuser’s voice as a prompt to remind me I have a Savior who has paid the price for all my sin.” I don’t want to listen to the accuser’s lies, but I can let them be a prompt to remember Jesus who has paid the price for ALL my sins.
    Bev xx


  6. A loud AMEN to: “Suffering reveals the power of Christ in important ways that are not present in a story of quick deliverance.” That statement reminded me of fellow-blogger Bill Sweeney over at Unshakable Hope. He was diagnosed with ALS over twenty-five years ago, I believe, and spends his days on a computer that tracks eye movement, enabling him to communicate–and blog. He and his wife Mary epitomize what it is to reveal the power of Christ through ongoing suffering. They are proof that God DOES bring good out of terrible loss! Hallelujah!


  7. These thoughts about loss describe what it feels like for me. We should never presume that we know how long we need to grieve or put the same restrictions on someone else. Thank you for sharing this book.


  8. Never thought of writing a loss obituary! I like it! Sounds like another incredible resource, Michele … and on one of my favorite subjects (believe it or not)–grief! I’ll be pinning and tweeting!


  9. Amen! Yes, loss is very real. Loss is mysterious and confusing and grounding at the same time. It can and will give God the glory when we allow Him to be in charge of our losses, our hearts, our lives. As much as I miss Kenneth, my Mama, now ways of living,I am so grateful that God knows my future and I am His. Thanks for such sound words here. loving you, ~ linda


  10. Hi Michele! This a great post and very needed at this time. The top quote (in the header) was particularly meaningful. Thank you for linking on Amanda’s Books and More! Keep safe and be blessed.


  11. Wow, Michele! This book sounds incredible. I cannot wait to read it! Thanks for the great book review. This one just jumped to the top of my list—Ordering today. 🙂

    Pinned to a couple of boards including our Books You Will Love group board.

    Thank you so much for linking up at InstaEncouragements!


  12. Everybody’s loss is different and affects in so many different ways, it takes time to heal, I often reflect on the losses in my life. Thank you for linking up with #pocolo hope you and the family are well and hope to see you back next week


  13. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Pleas stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn

    Liked by 1 person

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