Experiencing loss in any realm can be extremely difficult, such as the loss of an object that held special meaning, the unexpected loss of a job or the loss a loved one. Events such as these typically bring up feelings of sadness, disappointment, confusion, anger, frustration and hurt.
There is no right or wrong way to handle loss. Everyone deals differently with uncomfortable feelings. Some people cry on the spot. Some people nervously laugh. Some people yell passionately. Some people withdraw. Some people talk. Some people write. Some people pray. Some people run. Some people sleep. Some people do a combination of these things. Some people don’t do any of these things. There are infinite ways to cope with loss, which is an unavoidable part of living.
Many people hear the word “loss” and think in negative terms. When thought of from a different perspective, one might discover some positives. One that pops into mind is that loss provides the opportunity to learn. Some questions one might ask are: “How does this loss fit into my life on a larger spectrum? Am I able to see how the loss might serve a purpose?” These remind me of the quote, “When one door closes, another opens.” Ask yourself what opportunities have been granted as a result of the loss?
Loss may also provide the chance to learn more about oneself. What was it that made the loss so influential and what areas in your life did the loss most strongly impact? The answers can help to identify things that you truly value in life. Furthermore, one might reflect on how the loss was handled. Would you do anything differently the next time you experience similar feelings? Why or why not?
In addition to becoming more familiar with oneself, loss may also bring you closer to others. Support groups are often available for those struggling with similar situations and friendships are frequently enhanced as supports come to the aid of the ailing. It can be a time of camaraderie and solidarity, despite the loss.
It is difficult not to focus on the end result of a loss, and while it’s important to allow oneself to experience the negative feelings associated with loss, being open to view the loss in a different light will aid the healing process.
Katie Anson, MA, LPC