There’s an expression I’ve heard all my life: “All good things must come to an end.” I heard it from my dad, my scoutmaster, or a teacher telling us it was time to stop doing whatever we were doing and move on.

Yet there is wisdom in that statement. Think about it, everything we love has a beginning and an ending. No matter how much fun we might be having or how much we are enjoying something, it will end.

In life, we can plan when many things are going to end. When I start a week of vacation, it will end a week later. Some endings are even scheduled out for us, like the academic calendar for a school year, we know when everything will happen. I love baseball, and I know the season starts on opening day and ends 162 games later. Or if we’re fortunate enough to make the playoffs, it ends when we are eliminated or win the championship.

We often think life is a linear process, like school and sports, a well-planned and scheduled process. You know what’s coming and when it’s coming, and you prepare for it.

But life isn’t linear. It’s unscripted, happening to us—and not in an orderly way. The unexpected will happen to us, and we should expect it, even though we don’t. It’s those unexpected endings that often throw us off the most, causing us to struggle. I certainly know it does for me.

Think back in your life about those unexpected endings. Maybe you lost a close friend who moved from your neighborhood or school, or maybe your family moved away. Have you experienced an untimely death of someone you knew or someone you loved? Have you ever had your job end when you weren’t ready?

I know I struggle in those times because I like to feel “in control,” and it’s in those times when I feel the most “out of control.” In those situations, it’s hard to make sense of life and what’s happening.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be honest and tell you when I experience something like that, I immediately ask, “Why did this happen?” Experience has taught me that it’s the wrong question to ask, but it’s a natural response.

How do we get through those unexpected losses? First, accept that you will grieve the loss of what you loved or enjoyed. Talk about it with those you trust. It’s okay to shed tears or cry out to God about it.

 Accept that every loss deserves some grieving time, and to deny it is a mistake. Acting like you’re okay isn’t good for you, and others probably recognize it more than you do. Honesty is essential, with yourself and others.

I’ve lost two jobs in my life. Each loss was significant and unexpected. When people asked me about it, I did my best to be honest. I told them I missed the organization and the people I worked with.

It’s okay to be angry about your loss. God is happy to hear your anger. However, though it’s natural to feel that way, guard against staying mad for too long. Anger can help you grieve if you get it out. But don’t let your anger consume you.

Then, as you get through it, begin to look for opportunities where you might be able to help someone else who is experiencing a similar unexpected loss. I’m confident your experiences of loss will help you help someone else.

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

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