Trust: An Invisible Loss

A photo of an outstretched hand. Retrieved from

I have experienced layers of grief, yet it was surprisingly hard to see.

No one passed away. No one unexpectedly left town. They are all still present. Yet, things are different now.

Trust that was built up over years, decades even – dropped. Words and actions that cannot quickly be reversed shifted the tectonics of some relationships. And it hurts.

They are present. Yet, things are different now.

I’m not sure if I’m alone in how I feel the loss of trust almost physically: the tightening in my chest, the welling in my eyes, the aching in my temples. I lost something. For a while, it was hard to name.

I am an open person. My default is to trust. I have had to learn to more carefully discern. When I recognize trust has been lost by someone I confide in – the best word I have to describe it is grief. It is an invisible loss. The friendships often survive in some shape or form, yet they are not what they were. And it hurts.

I speak of the pain and the grief not to wallow, but rather to identify and recognize; to acknowledge the loss that no one else can see; to help me understand the depth of my feelings; to know there is a source and I am not crazy.

At least I don’t think so anyway.

Relationships shift. Some move closer. Others move further away. Reactions to the times when either side reaches out are deeply telling. Do you see one another as you are? Do you stand by one another? Are you present and compassionate? Or are you quick to judge, advise or fix? Are you distracted by life’s busyness?

I used to try to hold on so everything would stay the same. Yet, I too have changed. I move depending on the trust that is built or broken. I will build boundaries or doors. I wish all doors could open, yet there are lessons to be learned from the pain. I do not want my experiences to be in vain. I do not wall everyone out, nor do I let everyone stay.

I have also had to learn the harsh reality that those you can trust today are not always those you can trust tomorrow. Trust is invisible and renewable. This helps provide hope amidst the shadows.

I deeply value trust in all my relationships. I cherish it. I also grieve when it is lost. I know what the loss of trust can mean. The person is both present and out of reach. Missing someone you can still see is a surprisingly difficult form of grief.

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