When was the last time you experienced a loss in your life? Are you going through one now? We know what loss is, and no one escapes. It comes in many forms: death of a loved one, loss of job, health, money, relationships, home, your life dream, anything that’s important to you. When experiencing loss, something within us changes and may alter the way we think and function in life. It can turn joy to sorrow–trust to distrust–faith to despair–and fear of the unknown. We identify with people and situations in life, and when they’re gone, we sense a loss of identity. Who and what am I now? How do I see myself now?
Any growth requires a temporary loss of security. ~Madeline Hunter.
Loss begins in childhood and continues through life. And the older we get, the more we experience. Hopefully, we grow with each one. As I look back on my life, I’m amazed at the number. I’ve lost both parents, both brothers, a couple of husbands, many homes and friends, including one I thought was a dear friendship, jobs, money, health, my church family, my writing group, and…and. And I’m not done yet.
Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you–all of the expectations, all of the beliefs–and becoming who you are. ~Rachel Naomi Remen
Moving through life, there’s always a part of us not yet expressed. And as painful as loss is, it can help bring out more of who you are. It’s different for different people. Your loss may seem small to others, but it’s yours, and it matters. And your experience can tap into those dormant parts of you, bringing positive change.
Most of us are familiar with Elizabeth Kubler Ross‘ five stages of grief–denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These are present following the death of a loved one, but they may apply with any loss. And you will respond in your own way. Your first feeling may be disbelief. “How could this happen. Why?” Maybe anger sets in. “It’s not fair.” Depression is present in almost all forms of loss, but hopefully acceptance finally comes.
Depending upon what you’ve lost, your healing process is unique to you. Is there hope of replacing your loss–a job, money, home? Or is something gone forever–a health issue, a dear friend, a dream you had? Whatever it is, healing begins, and you must move forward. Allow your feelings to emerge, and address each one.
Resistance: The more you resist your pain, the stronger it becomes. Don’t repress the grief. It’s necessary for healing. When it comes up, give it some time and experience it. Then turn to an activity. Clean the house, go shopping, call a friend. If you allow it to stay too long at a time, you may find it hanging on constantly. But give it time.
Anger: Address your anger. Maybe you have a right to be angry, and that’s okay. Stomp your feet. Punch a pillow. Let it out in safe ways.
Depression: It’s your inner child who cries. Allow the tears, and let your child know you understand, and you’re there with love and comfort. And help him/her smile again.
Reaching out: When you feel strong enough, reach out to others you feel comfortable with. And add positive things in your life. During one of my losses, I went to my Minister for help. She asked if there was anything in my house I thought was beautiful. Nothing was beautiful then, so she said to bring in things I used to think were beautiful, and find renewed joy in those. I was amazed how beauty returned to me.
In depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. ~Albert Camus
Acceptance: Release any ill feelings toward anyone, and use positive intention to heal, accept your loss, and move forward. Explore what you’ve learned from your experience, and express gratitude. You’re becoming more of the whole person you’re meant to be. And that’s a blessing.
May peace replace your losses.
Marilyn Fowler, Author