Coping With Loss

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The loss of a valued possession, needing to give up a dream for the future, or losing a loved one will be among the most difficult experiences most of us must face. Yet, loss and grief are normal experiences in everyone’s life. 

How Loss Affects Us 
After a significant loss has occurred, we may feel numb and find that we are unable to think clearly or to make sound decisions. We might be confused and forgetful during normal conversations. We may outwardly appear calm but feel anxious inside. We might also feel guilt, as if we have let someone down. We may tell ourselves, “If only I had acted more quickly, things would be different.” We almost always feel alone and believe our lives will never be the same. 

All of these feelings are a normal part of the grief we experience when we lose someone or something we value. How long we feel them and how long it takes to find answers varies with each person. But, the grieving process typically lasts from six months to a year and one half with diminishing levels of intensity for most people. Accepting the loss and working through the grief takes time and patience. When the process is complete, we will continue to experience the loss, but, with a sense of peace and the knowledge that we can carry on. 

Loss Related To Those We Love, or Have Loved 
Whether through death or divorce, the loss of one’s spouse is almost always devastating. There will be moments of loneliness and self-doubt. There may be responsibilities to assume that one knows nothing about. We may experience a deep sense of emptiness and longing for the loved one to return, or for things to be different. With divorce that we have initiated, even when clearly justified, we may question whether we have done the right thing. Older adults may experience so much sadness that depression becomes an overriding factor in their lives. 

Sudden tragic losses, such as the death of a young person, are often hardest to accept. Children are part of our dream for future generations. Parents often believe they can’t go on as they experience the depth and significance of their loss. They sometimes wish they could give up their own lives so the child could live. 

Seeking Help 
Talking to friends and relatives about your loss can be helpful and healing. You need to go on remembering the person with someone who understands. Reading books about grief, facing the pain by being quiet and thoughtful can also be relieving. Seek professional assistance if depression and despair prevail. Talking to your clergy or a counselor can move you along the road to acceptance.