Dealing with Loss and Grief.

The concept of 'loss' is complicated.

The word itself is often associated with things like 'grief' or 'bereavement' and applied to an event that involves the death of a significant person.

An important person dies and the 'loss' leads to a period of 'bereavement' where, among many other emotions, 'grief' is experienced.

However, there are many other forms of loss that trigger a person to suffer with grief and experience all the associated physical and emotional effects.

The end of a significant relationship, especially if you were not the one that caused or initiated the end. Getting laid off from a job that you loved. How about having to relocate when you really liked where you lived. Consider the impact of your best friend moving away and you will no longer see them.

So many life events can trigger you to experience loss and it's important that the loss is dealt with appropriately in order for it not to impact your life negatively for any longer than it needs to. It's not possible for it to have zero impact but as long as you retain the ability to move forward then it's all part of life and you should be just fine.

So, what's the secret to dealing with loss?

Unfortunately there isn't one. There is no rule book when it comes to coping with loss and grief. It would be great if you just opened the manual and went through the checklist, ticking off the various elements until you complete all the tasks, at which point you feel miraculously better. But it's not that simple.

Even though many circumstances can be the same, people react to the loss differently.

Two people that have both worked for the same company for 10 years, both loved their jobs, got paid the same, had the same jobs and had the same lifestyle, will have different reactions if the company laid them off on the same day. Each individual has their own unique personality and set of life events and circumstances that led to that day. So the way the incident affects them could be very different. It's also possible for them to both have a very similar experience but the one thing you can say for certain is this. - "Just because the same thing happened to them, neither one knows, for sure, how the other one feels."

Dealing with grief and loss is an intensely personal thing. Only you know how you truly feel about that particular part of your life that has now changed forever. You have to deal with the fact that day to day life is now different but first you have to figure out what the difference means and how you feel about it. Have you lost a source of comfort and support that you will now struggle to live without? Have you lost part of your identity which leaves you struggling to understand who you are, now that life has changed?

You may feel abandoned.

You may feel guilty.

You may feel hopeless.

You may feel numb.

You may feel empty.

You may feel overwhelmed.

You may feel angry.

You may feel sad.

You may feel confused.

You may feel any combination of these things, and more.

If you find yourself experiencing anything like this, the answer is never to bottle it up, ignore the feelings and cross your fingers that everything will be ok.

It's important that even if you don't share it with anyone, that you do, at the very least, acknowledge what is happening for you. It is a vital part of the grieving process that follows a loss, to allow the thoughts and feeling to come to the surface. How can you figure out why you're so upset or guilty if the emotion is stuffed away in a dark corner of your mind and you never let it see the light of day?

The good part of there being no rule book is that there are no deadlines as to when you 'should' feel better.

It's too easy to put pressure on yourself by thinking something like "How come I still feel like this after all this time?" Just because you witnessed someone apparently 'get over it' in 3 months, that doesn't mean you should do the same. You're not breaking the rules by taking 6 or 12 months. You are simply going through your own grief and loss at your own pace.

Nobody can tell you you're doing it wrong. Only you will know if something doesn't seem right. You are the only person qualified to comment on what you are experiencing and what it could mean. Only you will have the insight to decide that you may need help in dealing with your situation.

If you feel it's been 'too long' and you think you should be further down the road of recovery by now, that conclusion should never be based on a comparison with other people. It should be a result of you looking at your life, deciding that you are ready for things to get better and then deciding on how best to make it happen. If you're unsure on how to implement change then talking to somebody could be a big help but the overriding factor should be that you are making the decision that is right for you, at a time that is right for you.

After a significant loss, allow yourself time to grieve. Give yourself space to come to terms with the changes that are happening. understand what it means and how you are going to accept it. The process cannot be rushed.

If you feel that you are struggling with a loss in your life then talking to somebody that specialises in this area could be a big help.