I was brought up believing that losing anything is Really Bad. I think this belief partly stemmed from a book that fascinated me when I was very small: Thomas Tidies His Room by Gunilla Wolde, in which Thomas loses his teddy and then tidies his room in order to ... well, I don't want to spoil the ending for you so I'll leave it there. But I remember getting increasingly anxious with each page turn, no matter how many times the book was read to me, as Thomas became more and more distracted from the task at hand. WHERE IS THE TEDDY?? FOCUS, THOMAS, PLEASE!!
Mind you, that self portrait he found is pretty funny. You don't need me to tell you it's all about the journey, not the end result, but actually when something is lost the search to recover it can sometimes be very unfunny indeed.
Last week I went to a meeting in Hatton Garden. My route took me right past the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit which was sensationally burgled earlier this month. Two police officers were leaving the building and I wondered what was going on that day behind the imposing front doors. The people that work there - are they able to get on with business as usual? Will they be busy with clients wanting to close their accounts, now that the security of the business is so publicly in question? How long will it be before things return to normal for them after such a huge loss? What, in fact, will 'normal' look like?
Because let's face it: loss means change. And change can be really hard to deal with, particularly when it hasn't been chosen. I've run many career workshops where people have talked about the loss of a job in their past and how much it affected them - the bitterness can last for years. When we lose a person dear to us it feels unbelievable that the rest of the world can just carry on regardless. At a slightly less dramatic level, we might lose our way - in life, in relationships, in what we hold to be true for ourselves - perhaps so gradually we don't realise it's happened until we are constantly overshadowed by a notion that something just isn't right.
When we recognise that loss means change, it's a more palatable concept. We've lost something important and can label life as before and after. "Before I lost my job, life was ..." "After my son died, life became ..." The thing about change is, of course, that it's always going to happen. Rebuilding your life after catastrophic change, or to correct your course when you realise you've been knocked off your real purpose, takes awareness, strength and often the support of others. It means owning what's happened, processing it and allowing yourself to move forward. We can choose to let go. We can choose to welcome the 'after'.