Slices of Life: When life hands you a loss

"Don’t give up on yourself. Each day will get just a little bit easier. I’d like to make this a promise, but I’m not sure I can. Let’s make it a hope and trust in that. Let’s trust in ourselves," writes Jill Pertler.

Jill Pertler
Jill Pertler
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Life is hard.

There are losses and endings of many kinds: Losses we are born with. Losses we learn to live with. Losses we hide. Losses that scar us. Losses we die with.

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There is loss of love. Loss of health. Loss of lifestyle. Loss of life. The end of a career. The end of a marriage. The end of a friendship.

We all (ALL!) go through hard times. We all experience hard things during our journey on this earth.

Death, taxes and hard times. We all have at least three things in common.


I’ve asked myself the obvious question over and over: Why does it have to be this way, loss being so intertwined with life?

I don’t like the answer, but I can only come up with one: It’s how it is supposed to be. Still it most often sucks.

We may feel alone in our own difficulties, but I promise you, everyone you meet is going through, has gone through or is about to go through a hard time. A test in life.

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It doesn’t seem right, from many perspectives, but maybe the hard times are opportunities. Maybe they are times we become capable of great growth and intense clarity.

Maybe we didn’t have a choice in the loss of our current situation, but maybe we have a choice and a voice in its ultimate outcome. Maybe we are more in charge than we could possibly imagine.

Embrace the maybe. Cling to the maybe. Make your maybe your possibility and then your reality.

It’s all about perspective. I’ve said this before: each of us gets to choose ours. It comes down to a few questions:

Will I dwell on our one goodbye, or on our many hellos?


Do I live in memory of my pain or the joy we built together?

Am I unlucky because you left this earth, or was I lucky because we got to be here together? Am I a victim or survivor?

Do I let the fire consume me, or do I rise from the ashes?

I can’t control my past, but who will control my future?

When you are living it out in real time, these questions are not only real; they are overwhelming and true. They can be life-defining.

No matter the tragedy, wrong or burden we carry, we have a choice of where, how and when we live it: in the past or in the now. When we relive the past we relive the hurt. Believe me, choosing the alternative to this is more than difficult. But why continue to keep choosing hurt?

Yeah, dumb question if there ever was one. But it takes a committed attitude and choice to make it your reality, and even then it is hard.

Don’t give up on yourself. Each day will get just a little bit easier. I’d like to make this a promise, but I’m not sure I can. Let’s make it a hope and trust in that. Let’s trust in ourselves.


Life is hard. It surely can be.

But life is also good. And, if I am being honest, I’ve had some monumentally extraordinary beyond-great things happen in my life.

I’ve also had tragedy.

But I’ve found that my default is to replay the tragedy over and over in my head, like a looped recording.

I know and remember the beautiful miracles and great love I’ve experienced, but they don’t replay like the tragedy.

I’m not sure how to explain this, except perhaps it is the human condition. Tragedy causes long-term effects that are real — like anxiety, PTSD, insomnia and the list goes on. Beauty and love just are — in the moment. As monumental as they are, they don’t linger and haunt us like tragedy does.

So we need to consciously choose love and joy, because it won’t chase us like our pain does. We need to wake up each morning and intend for the sun to shine, even when it is raining. Because the sun will shine again.

It will.

If we are awake enough to notice.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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