When we think of loss we often think of death. We seem to feel that grieving only occurs when we lose a person or pet, but this is not the case. Loss comes in many forms and we can feel this in the same way that we may feel somebodies passing.
Over our lives we may experience loss of places, communities, jobs, homes, or possessions. Most of us will experience heartbreak at the end of a relationship or friendships and believe me when I say that this is one of the most difficult things to watch someone go through in therapy. They say that
the loss of love is ‘the closest thing to madness’ most of us will experience. We feel the ‘common’ symptoms of grief such as anger, sadness, questioning, denial and guilt, and we struggle to see a time when things will feel normal again.
But what happens when the thing that we lose is less tangible? Some of the hardest things we can experience are loss of hope, loss of potential, loss of dreams or a loss of self. One of the things about change that hurts the most is that everything that we have planned out for ourselves and our view of the future seems to go away. At the end of a relationships we lose not only the person but our hope for our lives, our plans, and the loss of our worth. At times we can lose our identity and sense of who we are, something that can feel particularly poignant for new parents.
My first job as a therapist was working in a bereavement agency. This was a huge learning curve for me. Here I saw the different levels of loss that run through us, and when I then moved to an addiction service, I saw the lasting effects that grief can leave behind. It is not something we may go through occasionally but a living legacy that shapes us all.
Through all of this I have been taught that we cannot escape loss but we can understand that it is not the end for us. We do not reach the end of our path, but rather it just goes off in a direction we were not expecting. Our journey will continue and there will be good things along the way, we just learn to move with our new road and live with the change. We will be different because of it but different does not mean ‘bad’, it just means that we grow in a way that we didn’t expect. We are wonderful, we are resilient, and we are strong even in our times of pain.
We will get through this.