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Loss and disappointment

Death is not the problem – fear of death is. We all experience death on a regular basis in our work and everyday life, but fear can prevent us from letting go and learning to be fully human. Since change involves loss, it also involves death in some way. We do not always recognize these daily deaths for what they are:

• We grow older and no longer have as many options in our work.

• Friends are promoted or relocated and are no longer available to us.

• Our company downsizes.

• We lose a position that gave our life meaning or identity.

• Others take credit for our contributions.

Christ tells us, “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” But, how do we let go?

Most of us have heard about the stages of grieving: denial, shock, anger, etc. (see p. 21 for an explanation of the stages). But we sometimes try to move through these steps too quickly or, more importantly, we ignore step one – denial – altogether. How you are doing with these daily deaths at work? Take this test to find out:

First, make a list of all the big and small losses and  disappointments you have experienced in your work. Then select five to 10 that you currently have strong feelings about. For each of the issues on your list, answer the following questions True or False:

1  This issue is not a problem for me. Denial means, “Yes, I have strong feelings about this loss, but I do not see it as a problem.”

2  Yes, it is a problem but it is not significant. Denial means, “I see the problem but I rationalize that it is not important.”

3  Yes, it is a significant problem but there is nothing that can be done. Denial means, “I see an important problem but am unwilling to find a solution.”

4   Yes, it is a significant problem which others have resolved for themselves, but I am different and it won’t work for me. Denial means, “I am unwilling to find a solution that will work for me.”

In order to live in the present, we must be willing to learn to acknowledge and let go of past loss and hurt. Remember that the ultimate denial is to believe that our loss is so great that even Christ cannot forgive and heal our pain.