How to Deal with Loss
by Marilyn Pat Bogash, LPC
Loss encompasses any change we make in our life. It is often said that the losses we begin having in childhood, like the loss of a favorite toy or the death of a loved pet, begin to prepare us for the larger losses we all encounter as we make the journey through life. Transitioning from one lifestyle to another is a period of adjustment that throws most of us into a time of feeling lost and out of sorts. Whether the transition is a positive or a negative change, such as launching a new career or letting go of loved ones as they choose their own way of living, we experience a jolt of anxiety and maybe sadness. Being diagnosed with a catastrophic disease causes many losses just as the loss of physical capacity signals the beginning of the aging process. No matter what the loss may be, there are certain stages we have to process through until we reach some type of resolution to the change. These stages are described at the Internet site http://www.york-united-kingdom.co.uk/funerals/grief/.
Articles on the grieving process can be found on the Internet at http://hcd2.bupa.co.uk/fact_sheets/mosby_factsheets/Bereavement.html. Certainly the losses that are most difficult to resolve are those involving the death of a significant person in our life. At the time of death everyone feels surprise that death has come whether it was expected or not. When the deceased had a long term illness that resulted in death, the whole family had the opportunity to finish business so to speak, and to tell each other all the things that have gone unsaid for a long time. When death is expected, the grief reaction is said to be uncomplicated and the survivors will heal in time by talking about the experience and allowing their feelings to surface. When death is sudden like an accident or sudden illness, the response is a complicated experience because no one had the opportunity to prepare emotionally for the loss. These survivors often need more help to move through the bereavement experience to reach a place of acceptance and resolution. Some informative articles on the Internet that addresses these issues are http://www.ncpamd.com/bereavement.htm and http://www.utulsa.edu/cpsc/bereavement.htm.
It can be extremely helpful when trying to heal from a loss, be it the death of a spouse, child, a miscarriage, terminal diagnosis, loss of a relationship or job, etc. to seek support. A support system can be difficult to attend due to time constraints or location, but there are also Internet sites that can be extremely helpful in offering assistance to the bereaved including message boards, articles, etc. Two that you might like to consider are: http://growthhouse.org/ or http://griefnet.org/.
No matter what your sadness is, it is important to be kind and patient with yourself and to accept that resolution to the loss will take time. Healing comes from sharing the pain and talking about the sadness with others who understand what you are going through, whether that is a therapist, a support group or a close family member or friend.
Marilyn Pat Bogash, LPC