The economcis of grief and loss.
Many, if not all people will experience some form of loss in their life. How we respond to it could determine many things about our future. A positive response can lift our spirits, while a negative response can send us spiraling downward. Of course, there are some things that a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) just cannot overcome. There are some losses that are just devastating. According to psychologist and author Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, it is the one meaning in life we simply cannot deny. I heard it said once that, “we are all one person away from tragedy.”
There is a well-known idea called, “the five-step grieving process” which has helped many people cope with loss. The steps are as follows:
- Denial and isolation
Why does it take so long sometimes to make it through this process?
I think that the question is wrong though. Given the finality of life and the natural proclivity towards entropy, the real question we should be asking is, why people ever recover?
I believe that there is an economic reason why people actually recover. In economics, there is something called marginal cost. My favorite definition comes from a website called Business Jargon. They define it as, “the change in the total cost as a result of the production of one more unit of the product. If there is an increasing marginal cost, then the cost of each added unit gets higher because you have to sacrifice more for each unit. The time sacrificed could have been used to do other things, in economic terms, this is the opportunity cost.
Can grief and sadness be a product? I believe the longer that someone stays in grief and sadness, the more staying in that place will cost them. It is a marginal price increase. Eventually it might even take its toll on relationships, or even be a hindrance to the forming of new friendships.
Well that is all good Ben, but how can someone who is going through grief and suffering get out faster?
Much of the advice I am going to give from here on out comes from my friend Andy McCleary. He and his wife went through years of torture before finally losing their son to cancer.
The first and most important thing that anyone can do to combat grief and loss starts long before the event that leads in that direction. In my conversation with Andy, he said that his healing started with his grandmother. She gave him a solid biblical worldview, which provided firm foundadtion when the storm actually did come. This is also the lesson we can each learn from the biblical story of Noah’s Ark.
In this story, God gave Noah a warning that a flood was going to come. Through this knowledge, Noah, with his family behind him, started to construct an ark that would carry him through the flood. They did all of this many years before the flood came.
No matter how safe you feel now, a flood will come at some point in your life. Now is the time to prepare. Get your family behind you, mend the broken fences today. Start building in yourself healthy habits and get into a community of people who have your best interests in mind.
Of course, that does not help if you are already in the midst of the storm. It is never too late to do the things that will carry you safe to shore. Surround yourself with those who have your best interests in mind. Find a good strong church or social group and GET INVOLVED.
There is another famous storm story in the Bible. Matthew 8:23-27 recounts the story of a time when the disciples were in a boat with Jesus. Suddenly, a storm came upon them and the disciples were afraid. See, they had been with Jesus before. They had seen him perform miracles. He had ferried them safe to shore, not in a technical sense but in a metaphorical sense. They knew he was with them in the boat but they rashly awoke him telling him, “Save us, for we are perishing!” You may know how the story ends, Jesus rebuked the storm and it died down.
Ultimately, I believe that a well-constructed ark can only get someone so far. The best thing that someone can do is to put it into the hands of He who holds all things. Remembering that even in the worst storm, He is right there in the boat with you.
In closing, I think there are couple things worth pointing out.
- When we are low, God is close.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
- God has a plan for each of us
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
God is in your corner. He wants you to heal and He will help you heal.