What do you say or do when someone experiences a loss? Many times the answer is nothing other than listen. Often, words and actions get in the way of providing a space for one who is experiencing loss to guide what is to be said or done, if anything.
I have been thinking about this a lot as I learn about the losses of friends and acquaintances who have lost their homes in the Northern California fires. One moment everything is in tact. The next moment everything has changed.All one can do is be present to what has happened and pray, if it is part of your practice.
It seems that every week a natural disaster reminds us that we have no control over the uncertainties of life. It also provides us with another opportunity to remember that the only thing that is certain is change whether we want it or not.
Recently, I listened to a man tell a story on the radio about a time he almost lost his home in a fire. He described how he had carefully decorated his home with art and other items he loved which he intentionally left behind taking only his cat. He made peace with the possibility of his losing his home and possessions. He prioritized life over things. As life would have it, his home was fine when he returned.
Perhaps, one of the lessons in the many losses in the last two months is that things are nice to have but they come and go and can be replaced. Life, however, is priceless and more valuable than any thing. Another lesson may be that in difficult times we often recognize what is most important and let go of everything else. We let go of the past and are free to live and experience new life. From these lessons, we can then find meaning in loss.