"Learning to live with loss"
Updated: Sep 6, 2020
One of the first things you are asked to do when you are learning to become a grief counselor is to take a closer look at your own losses.
While I have been incredibly blessed in this life, I can honestly state that I am no stranger to pain.
Like many people out there, I had my fair share of significant losses.
Losing those we love is excruciating but unfortunately a part of life.
Death is part of life.
Parting ways with a loved one is an impossible task that challenges us to the core.
There are many different kinds of losses a person can experience and each loss triggers different reactions in the individual who experiences it.
The truth is there is no one way to grieve.
There is no timeline as this is not a "one size fits all" kind of experience.
Besides, the process of grieving is deeply affected by the kind of relationship the person had with the deceased.
People mourn their loved ones as well as what these losses mean to their personal life, emotionally and spiritually.
A child losing a parent, no matter the age, he or she will mourn the fact that he/she won't be able to call the parent, share their happy/sad moments or even hug their departed loved one.
A woman losing a pregnancy will mourn the baby that won't be and all the future life moments that won't materialize.
It is not only about the loss, but it's also about the broken hopes and dreams.
We are all different and as such it's only logical we should experience and cope with loss in our own unique ways.
When I started learning about Grief counseling, my first realization was that death as a topic is a complete Taboo.
We don't talk about death because we rightfully fear it.
There is also an element of superstition surrounding death, as well as spiritual-religious beliefs that may have influenced the way we think about it.
In truth, making sense of death is incredibly difficult because it means coming to terms with the fact that those who left us are no longer in this World.
We are forced to detach ourselves from them which feels like pure pain and an impossible task.
One thing counselors do recommend to the surviving family members is to memorialize their deceased in a way that honors their memory.
It's crucial to allow these love expressions while simultaneously making sure they continue living.
People experiencing loss may go through some or all of these five stages:
Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Sadness, and Acceptance.
In the books I'm reading, it is highlighted that people could in fact skip some of these stages, or experience them in a different order.
Not everything leads to closure, not everyone reaches acceptance.
Looking at my own losses, I realized that I did experience every stage when I was confronted with painful losses.
Reflecting on my own experiences as well as the readings, I figured it can't hurt to share a few tips with those who may need it:
Allow yourself to cry, and feel the loss. Repressing sadness is unnatural and it can create other unwanted side effects that can affect a person's health.
Take comfort in the love and support offered by friends and family.
If you feel the need, seek the help of a Grief counselor. He or she can offer a short term support system to navigate the loss.
Identify your feelings, they help you grasp what you might be experiencing.
Engage in journaling and reminiscing. These are great tools that promote healing.
Research other resources available that could bring you comfort, for example, support groups, therapy, etc.
Find a feel-good activity that could bring you peace and joy (yoga, hiking, meditation, prayer, coffee with a friend, etc).
If you experience depression signs please contact a mental health professional for support (Doctor, Psychologist, Psychiatric help).
It is not a surprise that many of these resources remain a secret.
Perhaps it's because we live in a culture that is obsessed with happiness.
In the times of Corona where so much has been lost, it's important to stay in tune with our emotions. This is not only true when it comes to death but also true when it comes to small everyday losses.
I'm not suggesting we spend 24 hours a day crying but rather that we give ourselves permission to acknowledge what we lost, to allow us to mourn.
Let's remember that after we acknowledge these losses, we owe it
to ourselves to continue going.
It's paramount to rebuild and embrace our hopes and inner strength.
Because underneath our losses there is an incredible resilience waiting to rise to the occasion.