Five Common Aspects of Loss

I experienced a loss last week that I had been dreading for several years — the loss of a tooth.

It’s not the first tooth I’ve lost.  Long years ago, I lost two molars and had a bridge put in.  That’s one of the reasons I dreaded losing a molar on the other side.  While the bridge has held up well, it’s not like having real teeth (or at least crowns on real teeth).  And of course, there’s also the expense of the required dental work which only adds to the sense of loss.

We had known that the tooth was on it’s last legs for several years.  The crown had come off twice in the last three years, each time taking a part of what remained of the tooth with it.  My dentist warned me the last time that the repair wouldn’t last long — actually suggesting it would probably be only weeks or a few months.  But I did what I could to keep it going, and it held together for about 20 months.

So the loss was not unexpected.  I just wasn’t ready for it to happen.  I wasn’t ready to lose the tooth, to encounter the discomfort of the dental procedure to provide a substitute, or to pay for the dental procedure.

But I didn’t get to choose when it happened (I’d have chosen never).  On a day like any other day, the crown and part of the tooth just came off.

Today I spent time in the dentist’s chair.  The procedure wasn’t as uncomfortable as I had feared, due to a very competent dentist.  The price tag was worse than I expected, as it always seems to be.

I know I’ll heal from the discomfort of the extraction and the soreness from the needle sticks and jaw soreness from having my mouth strained, and that my new bridge will probably provide a better chewing experience than I’ve had in a while.  But I’m still feeling the loss.

So, if you’ve held on this far, you’ve probably guessed that I’m now going to tell you that this loss parallels other losses we suffer in life.  And you’re right.  Here are five common aspects of loss:

  1. Knowing that we’re going to suffer a loss doesn’t lessen the impact of the actual loss.  There may not be the shock of unexpectation — but knowing it’s going to happen doesn’t make the actual loss less important.  It’s not a relief — it’s a loss.
  2. Even when we’re expecting a loss, we can’t predict exactly when it will happen.  Expertise can give us an estimate, but it’s just that.  In this case, the loss came later that estimated.  Sometimes it comes sooner.
  3. We’re never ready to experience loss, even if we know it’s going to happen.
  4. Things are never the same after a loss.  We will heal, and we will do fine with the new situation.  But it won’t be the same as before.
  5. And previous losses impact how this loss will impact us.  Losses have a cumulative effect on us, and with subsequent losses, the earlier losses have to be dealt with again.
  1. rbee says:

    Found you at “300 words a day”, interesting point on #5….hope your on the mend.

  2. Jim Thompson says:

    My Dad is 78, and I have thought about all of these things. Still scared to death about the day I get “the call”.

  3. Jim Hughes says:

    My dad is 84, Jim, so I share your concern. We’re enjoying good time now, but it’s like the tooth — some day it’s going to happen. And thinking about it ahead of time really doesn’t prepare us.

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