I know an older woman nearing 90 now whose memory is becoming more unreliable as each year plays itself out. As she loses control over her memory in dribs and drabs she becomes anxious over things in ways that she never did. As she gets more anxious she unpredictably flies-off-the-handle and gets mad as hell at the slightest perceived injustice toward her! Dealing with her is at times like walking through a minefield and never being sure what thing said or done might set her off! To counter the memory loss she senses is occurring she diligently works on word puzzles trying to strengthen and save what is left.
Another friend lost his job at the age of 60. He spent weeks sending out resumes which resulted in no calls for interviews. Every time he passed a Burger King, McDonalds or Wal-mart he envisioned himself having to work there and he wondered what his life was worth if it had been reduced to this! His reaction to this great loss was to withdraw into a depression so profound that he was unable to get out of bed. No amount of pleading, cajoling or screaming on the part of his wife resulted in him accepting that his life was not over!
There was a TV episode of “Hoarders” in which an old woman was hanging onto her house so as to pass it on to her children. She had packed every room with items she also wanted to pass onto them although why they might need a room filled with plastic bags was a mystery even to her! By the time the house was actually cleaned out it was discovered her hoard had prevented proper maintenance and because the house was literally rotting away it had to be demolished! Once the verdict was announced to the old woman and to her adult children one of them commented, “That house was going to be our future but now that it’s destroyed it has become our past.”
Life constantly demands that we choose! Loss is also a part of life whether it be a treasured heirloom consumed by fire, the death of a loved one, the loss of one’s memory or the end of a career. Life does not end when loss occurs! Loss, like Life itself also forces us to make new choices. Every choice involves a compromise and an elimination of other choices that one could make. Some choices can turn out better than expected depending on how they affect the direction of our life. When loss arrives it requires our willingness to re-group, re-orient and re-choose our life! It’s okay to give ourselves a short time of mourning but after that we have to make choices! We have to get on with living our life rather than letting deferred choices rob us of that life!