MY WORD: Loss and found – life and death

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By E. Leslie Bailey

Let’s look at these four issues and how they affect our lives. Let’s begin by describing loss, which may be of two kinds: the loss of materials things such as money or a business from a bad decision. We may also lose by theft and be aggravated because of our carelessness or bad judgment.

The other type of loss is of a love one or a close friend, or the loss of health or our physical well being.

If we contact cancer or an incurable disease, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross says that grief progresses through stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Denial: Why did this happen to me?

Anger: I am mad at God and the world.

Bargaining (with God): If you cure me and help me through, I will be a better person and recognize daily and serve You more.

Depression: A period of anxiety and loss of purpose…where do I go from here?

Acceptance: We accept reality and move on with our life.

My wife (Mary Frances) has been gone for four years after 65 years of marriage. I am still trying to cope with her loss. I have been going through some of the stages mentioned earlier. Why did she leave me?

Anger: How am I going to get along without her?

Bargaining: God, let me keep her a little longer.

Depression: I cry about every time I go to her gravesite.

Acceptance: I have come to partially accept her loss and must move on with my life.

I experienced the loss of a special person in life that led to a period of depression that I am dealing with daily. When those losses occur, there is a challenge to find your way but you have no other option.

Reflecting on my 96 years of life, I like to remember the first loss in our family was my grandfather, followed a year later by my grandmother’s death. Then in recent years, the death of my parents and a younger sister…also the loss of co-workers which you loved and admired…then the death of my wife, which I am still struggling to accept.

You begin to realize the journey in this life is of a temporary nature that you have to accept.

Now let’s look at life and death.

King David in Psalm 139 reflects on God, as God is everywhere and directs his life. David says he can never get away from God’s presence. However, it is inevitable that life will end and death will come.

We have all encountered death of loved ones and friends, but we are reluctant to think about our own death. Most spend a lot of time not thinking of death. We began the dying process when we were born, along with the aging process.

The following statements are from a DVD series of lectures I studied called Practicing Mindfulness Introduction to Meditation from The Great Courses:

  • I am subject to aging. Aging is unavoidable.
  • I am subject to illness. Illness is unavoidable.
  • I am subject to death. Death is unavoidable.
  • I will be separated and parted from everyone and everything is dear to me. Whatever I do, for good or for ill, that will I reap. The weakness and fragility of one’s physical body contributes to life’s uncertainty.

The body can be easily destroyed by disease or accidents.

In youth, we prepare for life and a career. In old age, we should prepare for death and life after death. I would like to be remembered as a friend to everybody I meet.


E. Leslie Bailey is 96 years old and a part-time resident at Amber Oaks Assisted living Center in Shelbyville.