On Loss

Loss by Robynn

Last Sunday I attended a seminar on loss.

Once again I realized how thoroughly marked by loss my story is.

During the session we were brain storming categories of loss and specific examples of loss. The object of the activity was to get people thinking through their own losses. At one point I contributed, “When a person who’s grown up overseas returns to their passport country there’s loss: Loss of culture, of community, of language, of place, loss of family, and friends, loss of pets, loss of parents….” The moderator nodded and wrote on the white board, “Loss of Culture” . That was it.

But that’s not it!

It’s overwhelming to begin to identify all the losses the Third Culture Kid experiences. It’s too much. If we begin to unravel our stories the grief will choke us. There’s been too much loss. Too many goodbyes. Too many metaphoric deaths.  Too many figurative funerals.

We grew up with the loss of our extended families. Grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins were said goodbye to as we boarded large airplanes destined for foreign places. We didn’t grow up hearing the family folklore. Later coming back to these circles we often felt foreign and slightly estranged.

Boarding school routines put us on a cycle of loss. We went off to school and there was the loss of our parents, our security, our homes. We left for home and there was the loss of routine, of friends, of teachers. We went off to school and there was the loss of parents, our security, our homes. We left for home and there was the loss of…. And on and on it went. We were forever saying goodbye. We were forever grieving. And when we weren’t actively doing so we had it in the backs of our souls that the countdown was ticking down. 3 more weeks and we’d have to say goodbye. 2 more weeks and we’d be leaving. 1 more week and it the pain would be unbearable. The dread of goodbye was nearly as palatable as the goodbye itself.

People were always leaving too, departing, disappearing. Families would go home on furlough. Boarding parents would come and go. Friends would say goodbye. High school graduates would leave.

All of it should have readied us for the bigger loss that was yet to come. But how could we be prepared for the layers and layers of loss that would leave us raw and broken when it came our turn to leave. When we ourselves left and landed in a country that was supposed to be “home” but felt so completely foreign. We lost ourselves.

But it’s too big of a topic for a seminar. You can’t write it all down on the white board. It’s too much to contain in the confines of a blog or an article.

This has been a week of loss of hundreds of people around the globe. Earthquake victims have suffered the loss of their homes. Villagers in Iraq have endured the loss of their loved ones. Runners and bystanders have lost limbs and lives in Boston. An entire town in Texas is reeling from an explosion that took at least 5 lives and injured 160 more. There’s no standard of measurement for loss, no measuring stick, no system of weights and scales. Who’s to say who hurts more, who has suffered the most? Thousands of people are grieving loss just now.

You can’t write it all down. It’s too much to capture on a keyboard. It’s still too raw, too deep.

As those who have suffered repeated loss, we are equipped to bring the grieving thousands to Jesus. Years ago four friends loaded up their friend on a bed and they carried him to Jesus. The crowds couldn’t deter them. They climbed on top of the roof and they persistently dug a hole through the rafters—a spontaneous skylight!—and they lowered their friend down through the chaos and the crowds and the clammer. They brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus. The four understood paralysis of one kind or another and they knew there was hope and healing in one place, one person. That person was Jesus.

20130118-103438.jpgToday I load up the thousands on to the mat of my intercession, and I limp along to that One Person. I lay them, the grieving, the traumatized, the displaced, the misplaced, and the wounded gently down at his feet.  He is their only hope. He remains their only haven of healing. And nothing can separate them from that.

21 thoughts on “On Loss

  1. Thanks so much for this. Happily the research endorses the stories of loss and grief and also provides a way forward consistent with biblical principles which would add up as Jesus is the way and the truth. For some more information on the research on loss and grief and reentry distress in adult missionaries see
    Dr Susan Selby


  2. I read your post today. The day my 15yod left again for boarding school. The day I had to see tears well up in her eyes again as she said another goodbye. I’m thankful for your words and the end that reminds me to lay her (and others) at the feet of Jesus. But it is also hard to read your post and the comments and wonder what our decision to live in a foreign country and raise 3 TCKs. My two oldest are now back in the US and have both had struggles of reclamation. I would love to hear what you suggest we as parents do to help our TCKs make that adjustment. How to prepare them for the further adjustment and goodbye upon their return to their ‘home’ culture.


  3. I’m thankful for people like you who can put into word what I have not been able to explain. It wasn’t until several of my tck friends and I got together ( years after moving back) that I realized where most of my “weird perspectives” were rooted. I am learning to recognize the source of so many things that I never knew how to express. I’m also learning to run to Jesus – sooner- when these feelings/issues pop up. Thank you.


    1. I’m a slow learner too. Jesus is forever hospitable though and welcomes us every time. Blessings on you in your journey….Thanks for your comments.


  4. What a blog! I was touched by your raw honesty and your own working through it in the end. I was touched by the revelation God is giving you in your prayer for others. Your losses have made you a strong oak tree able to withstand great trial. Because of your losses, many broken people are going to sit under your tree and breathe a sigh of relief. They will refresh themselves in your shade and then be able to get up again and continue life. You are amazing and although I don’t know you–I know and work with Daycee Richardson–you have touched my heart.


    1. Laura, reading your kind comments was like reading an ancient blessing. You brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for your generous words.


  5. I re-read this again this morning Robynn. So beautiful. Taking us from the loss as TCK’s to the loss of this week and leading us to the feet of Jesus. Thank you. This is Truth.


  6. I love your conclusion Robynn, loading every loss on to the mat and bringing it to Jesus for his healing. It’s the only way we get through it, constantly coming to him for his healing oil poured on our wounds.


  7. Robynn, I can hear your mind and heart turning over the thoughts and see them flooding in. You can drown in them or ask for the Savior to throw a life saver. I think that was the point that He wants us to see. We can’t handle what this world offers without Him. Thank you Jesus Christ! He will comfort, guide, teach and save, all at once. Thanks for writing.


    1. Thank you Diann for your comments….there is that horrid feeling of being overwhelmed by it all…that near-drowning sensation…. I like how you described the life-saver our everyday Saviour throws us! That’s a gentle grace….!


  8. Thanks for your post. I have just started reading them and I am draw specifically to the posts about TCK’s. I have just begun my journey towards healing.


    1. There are a growing group of us that are just now beginning to heal…. I’m glad you are too Linsey. It’s difficult to name and process all the grief, trauma, loss, separation, culture misplacement that we’ve experienced. I wish you grace as you journey on. I’m happy to put you on the mat that I bring to Jesus. He knows you. He understands you. You don’t have to explain anything to him. He gets it. There is some comfort in that.
      Thanks for your kind words.


  9. Robynn,

    Thanks for this blog post (and the many others),

    Your posts put words to the feelings I had as a TCK but was unable to express.
    I have become aware of these feelings and their lasting effects in the past few years and I have come to see how they have impacted my adult life.

    I am still on the road of uncovering, understanding and healing and it’s a comfort to hear from you and others around the world who have experienced the same.

    Thanks again,


    1. Yvonne! Thanks for commenting. I am just now coming to a place where I can more fully articulate things I’ve kept quiet in my heart for years. We are forever impacted by our stories…. I hope you can find redemption to some of your memories and pain. It’s hard to unravel it all. I write this with true empathy…Grace to you!


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