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The Lessons of Loss

The lessons of loss begin early. A child’s favorite toy is left somewhere and never found. A parent turns angry or disappears, striking at a child’s feelings of safety or worth. Over time the losses mount—people, places, things that were loved—sometimes losing even faith or trust or sense of self.

There is nothing we have that can’t be taken away.

The lesson of loss is not surrender, not detachment. It is not to prepare for the worst, not to numb or rid the self of desire. The lesson of loss is a more perfect form of love; a love that requires nothing, that depends on nothing—not even the presence of the beloved.

Loss leads to a form of love that is unchanged by fading beauty or scars of time; a love that is unchanged even by destruction, by absence or death. Loss teaches how, eternally, we hold the beloved.

Matthew McKay
by Matthew McKay

Matthew McKay is a clinical psychologist and a professor at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. In 1979, he cofounded Haight Ashbury Psychological Services in San Francisco and served as its clinical director for twenty-five years. Currently he serves as the director of the Berkeley Cognitive Behavior Therapy Clinic. He has explored spiritual and afterlife issues in two previous books: Why? and Your Life on Purpose. He is also the author of professional and self-help psychology books, including Thoughts & Feelings, Messages, Mind and Emotions, Self-Esteem, Prisoners of Belief, and many others.

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