Welcome to this edition of my In Therapy mini-series on Loss and Grief, where I would like to touch on other types of loss and how we might work through them.
Last week, we spoke about sudden and predictable loss and grief. There are more types of grief, and this post will help you identify them (click here to read it).
Working through the breakup in a romantic relationship can take many shapes and forms, depending on the length and intensity of the relationship.
Questions such as: Will I be able to cope on my own? Why did this happen? How could I let him/her treat me like that for so long? Why didn’t I do this sooner?
Thoughts such as: I had the rest of my life with him/her planned, now I need to start again; I will never trust another man/woman ever again!; I will be sad and alone forever.
In practical terms, there are issues such as bumping into them at the shops and how to act or react; if you work together, how is that going to work now; what happens if you see them with someone else? What are they going through during this breakup, do they feel as bad as you? Have they found it easy to move on?
It gets more complicated if there are children or a mortgage involved. But if this doesn’t apply, then it’s just a matter of working through the pain of the breakup, whatever shape it takes, however long it takes.
I guess it depends on whether the breakup was as amicable as possible (you grew apart, you had different ideas of what your life was meant to look like, for example) or you left it in really bad terms (violence in the relationship, cheating, etc).
Re-thinking your life will start when you are ready, and you can then pick yourself up, take the things that remind you of that relationship and put them in a box and return them or give them to charity, or whatever you want to do with them.
You can start making new plans for your life without that relationship. Every relationship teaches us something. In time you can see what you can take from that relationship and use it to your advantage.
Talking through the breakup and everything it brings up in you with a counsellor might help you process the pain and move forward with your life.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has some great books on Life Lessons that might be helpful, both when working through relationship issues as well as when working through grief and loss.
Loss of health can be a frustrating time, whether it’s permanent or temporary.
I have worked as a support worker at a rehabilitation centre, where people go when discharged from hospital after a fall (usually older people), to recover, have physiotherapy, and heal before going back home.
They were usually over-confident in their abilities and angry at having to be looked after.
I had to hoist someone back into bed after telling him that if he wanted to get up he needed to call me. He looked at me like I was exaggerating. He didn’t after he tried to get up on his own and fell on the floor! That fall scared him and made him realise that I wasn’t patronising him, that we were both there for a reason – him to get support in doing what he used to do independently before his accident, and me to support him to do just that!
It can be such a shock to need someone to help do things that we used to do so easily, like getting up from bed, using the toilet, and other activities. It is understandable that they be cranky and upset when brought to this rehab centre! (nothing a bit of patience, compassion and humour can’t fix).
Being unable to speak can be highly frustrating to someone that used to talk normally before a stroke or an accident. Manoeuvring through the feelings of having to communicate in a different way, not being understood or wanting to express your anger and fears and being unable to.
These types of loss of health and more will be significant and will need to be worked through with patience and compassion on the side of the carers and family members. Imagine yourself losing your ability to walk, talk, be independent. Working through all the emotions that might arise after an accident or medical complication will take time and lots of adjusting.
Losing your job, your source of income and possibly career satisfaction, will bring its own complications.
How do you face yourself, your family and friends, and tell them that you lost your job due to redundancy, being fired, or quitting? What will you do for income now? Are benefits an option for you? How quickly will you get another job? Will you be homeless soon?
As with other life circumstances, we can learn from losing a job.
We can regroup and reorganise our lives so that we focus on what’s really important. We can prioritise what we spend our money on – budgeting might be necessary if you are relying on benefits or on your savings for a period of time.
Go through the feelings, see a therapist, work through what it all means and then pick yourself up and go get that job you want. Maybe it’s time for you to start your own business and this job loss is a blessing in disguise?
Losing a pet can be as hard as losing a family member or close friend.
Pets become part of the family and therefore losing them will bring up feelings similar to the ones described in the previous post.
So cry for your pet, miss them, talk about them, remember them. You are allowed and indeed important that you do process this loss.
Every change in life requires adjusting, working through the positive and negatives it might bring. Graduating highschool means you are ready for the big wide world, you can study what you want at University or you can go travelling for a year. Starting a new job means learning new skills, meeting new people and many new opportunities; it might also mean a raise in salary from your previous post. Moving to a new city is a challenge – it might be scary to be somewhere nobody knows us, we might feel lonely for a while, or we might enjoy the freedom of being anonymous!
Embrace change, but also honour your feelings of fear, anxiety, excitement at every life transition.
I hope you have enjoyed this edition and have found helpful tips and ideas to help you work through loss and grief.
If you need to talk, contact me here.
Until next week…