Loss takes many forms. The most painful loss is the death of someone we love – a relative, a spouse or lover, a friend, a co-worker. Grief can be excruciating even if the loss has been anticipated for a long time, but even more jarring if it is sudden.
There are other types of losses as well – ones which shake the foundation of our taken-for-granted view of how things are, or how we expected them to be. Examples of these are losses in the realms of career success, love relationships, family bonds, physical abilities, financial security, and health.
It takes a long time to grieve a loss, usually longer than we think it should.The elements of grief, first defined many years ago by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, occur and re-occur to each person at different times and intensities, repeating themselves and circling back, seeming like they will never end.
Those elements are:
- Denial– “This can’t be happening.” There is shock, and a sense of the loss being so unwanted and unreal that it is very hard to let it in. You might feel as if you are in a mental fog, or in a struggle with yourself.
- Bargaining– “It wouldn’t have happened if only I had done…(x).” Bargaining can include guilt and self-recrimination, even if there is no truth to those “if only” thoughts at all.
- Anger– “It’s unfair!” Anger comes up especially if an injustice has been done, and can be helpful if it leads to a necessary corrective action. If there is no action to take, anger is still a normal response to not having control over loss.
- Sadness and Depression– Sadness is the most obvious feeling, and the one which usually lingers the longest. It is important to honor the sadness and not to deny it. Crying is natural.
- Integration– Slowly, over time, the ability to integrate the loss into your current life will occur, even if it feels like it never will.
The grief process is very powerful and difficult, and it is important not to go through it alone. A therapist can be a very welcome resource to help you through loss. With a therapist you don’t have to hold back intensity or confusion. Therapists have experience in the world of emotions and can share your mental and emotional burden, help you to express your feelings, and guide you in finding a path forward.
Read more about therapy in my book: Someone To Talk To; What Really Happens in Therapy and How it Can Work for You.
Find it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1627875956 or on my website: https://joycehouser.com/my-book/