What do we need to know when we are called upon to deal with loss?
I suggest we must understand the following three issues:
- The nature of the loss
- The necessity of emotion
- How humans cope, heal, and move on
Loss is challenging. When loss enters your life, life and the world as you knew it changed, and you have to navigate an entirely new way of being.
Loss or grief impacts all of us at some time or another. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, loss of a job or income, or loss of social closeness, it is difficult to face and endure.
When we are deprived of something or someone we love, we can go through a period of despondency, anguish, and pain. The emotions that arise from loss can leave you feeling depleted to a point that you may feel fear, depression, or overall despair. You may even feel incapacitated.
We all react or respond differently to loss.
In most cases, we are not prepared for it or the emotions it can produce like anger, vulnerability, denial, confusion, or disbelief that “this has happened to me.” We may feel guilty, “what could I have changed?” We may be yearning for our old life or begin searching for a new identity.
Loss cannot only emotionally affect us, but it can also affect us physically. It can, for example, affect our sleep patterns and cause horrific dreams or nightmares. Or it can prevent us from sleeping altogether. If we have prior symptoms or a history of depression, anxiety, troubled relationships, we may be more vulnerable.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross described the five stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (which I call closure). But is there really closure? They say it takes a year to get over loss but is that true? There is no easy solution to grief and how you deal with loss is totally up to you. There is no right way. There is only your way. Grieving is like a cycle of continuous emotion over time that will hopefully eventually diminish.
Your brain cannot distinguish between emotional or physical pain because the same pain receptors are firing. It’s like you lost a limb. If you broke your leg, it will take time for the leg to heal. You have to learn to manage without that leg for however long your body takes to heal. The best thing you can do is learn to manage your pain. Express how you feel about your loss and allow yourself to let it go.
Is it necessary to have pain to grow? Physical activity such as exercise is painful, but the reward is great. Studying hard is painful, painstaking efforts at work are painful, working on a difficult relationship can be painful, but after pain comes growth. We learn how to adjust and move on. Even though the symptoms of loss are compared to depression, after a significant loss you can still have or create positive feelings.
How can you move forward? There is no perfect technique. It’s all about you and what you can accomplish.
Here Are 5 Steps That Lead to Resolution After Loss:
- Focus on how you can restore your life. What steps can you take to move back to normal? Write them down.
- Focus on what you can change or what you have control over. Think about the controllable instead of what you can’t control.
- Create reasonable expectations for yourself. Take baby steps.
- Do not become overly critical of yourself. You are on your timeline, no one else’s. Don’t rush.
- Stick to the basics of self-care and focus on your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Do something every day in each category, such as meditating, reading an uplifting book, doing yoga, watching your food intake. Do healthy things for your body.
The most important is to have gratitude for what it is you still have. Feel and express this gratitude every day, every hour, and every minute.
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