When you learn something from Pretty Little Liars

Yes, I watch the overly-dramatic, somewhat predictable ABC Family show, Pretty Little Liars, on Tuesday evenings with my daughter. It is our special time since the males in this family aren’t the slightest bit interested.  Shayla started a new job (so proud of her) so now we watch on DVR, but it is still precious time together.

I did not anticipate learning something useful to my life from the show.  Last week’s episode, however, reminded me about a psychological theory that struck a chord in my heart; the concept of ambiguous loss.

I’m not sure why it never occurred to me that I could suffer from something I so easily recognize in others.  Working in healthcare, particularly with the elderly, I see families walk through this valley of uncertainty when their loved one is living with dementia.  Suffering the loss of someone still alive is a tentative, confusing predicament.

My relationship with my maternal side of my family has been disrupted over the years, for various and sundry reasons.  A lot of the distance, especially over the last few years, has been intentional on my part and necessary for my mental health.

“Remembering. Forgetting. I’m not sure which is worse.”
― Kelley Armstrong, The Calling

Being cut off from relationships that have been central in your life for so long is painful.  It hurts, it makes me cry, it makes me mad.  God has brought me so far in the battle of overcoming the past but moving forward requires a daily decision to let things go.

And, a daily decision to grieve.  Grieve what could have been, what should have been, what I wish was.  And, it’s not a death where I can visit a grave or even look forward to Heaven for closure.  It’s ambiguous loss and it took Pretty Little Liars to put my finger on it.

Is there an ambiguous loss in your life?  How do you deal with it?

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. ~Romans 12:18


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