No matter the color of your skin, your socioeconomic background, or the country of your birth, one of the things we all have in common is loss. At some point, we all will have to struggle with grief over the loss of a friend or loved one.
Typically, you might experience the death of an elderly family member, like a grandparent or a great-grandparent. As you age, and the people you know also age, death becomes more frequent. There may also be an unexpected death from someone who dies earlier than expected.
Eventually, if you get old enough, loss may seem like a nearly-everyday occurrence.
The way that loss is dealt with varies by the individual. There are the publicized five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But there are other ways to feel grief, and the order and severity of symptoms of loss can vary drastically from person to person.
Loss is not something that typically has any sort of formal training or instruction. And yet it is something that each one of has to learn to deal with. We each will feel the sting of family members, friends, pets, neighbors, spouses, and sometimes even children.
Processing your feelings can lead to a healthier psyche, and a more fully-lived life.
How do you deal with loss?
Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose of life? What do we have in common? Why are people afraid of death? How can we turn sadness into constructive action?
6 thoughts on “How Do You Deal With Loss?”
When loss of someone close to me has happened, I immediately feel, as they say, a “(insert name here)-shaped hole” in my heart.” I am shaken to my core. I feel as if I cannot or it will be incredibly hard go on.
I also feel that the while people are filled with grief, rarely do we collectively and publicly express the level of loss that the person meant to us for a lifetime’s worth of contributions. I suppose there’s some health to this, if we all immediately oozed out the amount of grief we feel inside, it would only make things harder to deal with privately. But a large part of me feels the person now gone deserves a greater level of recognition, even though they cannot witness the expressions of what everyone feels.
A wake, a funeral, and a dinner afterwards feels like a woefully inadequate way to publicly express/talk about what someone meant to us. I guess I wish there were a few more public check-ins people partake in if they want/need to say what someone meant to us and for people to be there for one another as we go through the stages of loss and grief.
I am an atheist. I feel when you are gone, you are gone. That’s why I feel we should do the things in the above paragraph. I feel we can only feel/say what someone meant to us while we are here on Earth, so we should do it to honor them properly.
Oddly enough, I try to deal with loss before there is loss. If someone dies without knowing what they meant to me, then that, to me, is a loss indeed. But if I have expressed to them their impact and importance to me, then it doesn’t sting so much when they are gone.
I like to surround myself with physical items that I believe hold their energy. Example: a blanket my grandmother used to keep on her recliner or a vase my aunt filled with fresh flowers and placed on her dining table each week.
It provides me a piece of something they held near them and creates an opportunity to share their story when others comment on the items.
I’ve been dealing with pretty profound grief since my mother passed mid-October. My grief has not been pretty. I have holed-up in my house, sitting in the corner of my sofa, reading and watching TV, eating comfort foods, and crying now and then. Depression set in and I could not crawl out of it. The Dr. kindly prescribed a small dose of Zoloft and I am seeing a counselor. I’m not sure how much the counseling is helping, but the Zoloft has gotten back into the world of the living.
I’ve read a few books on grief, but none spoke to me until I found “I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye” by Brook Noel & Pamela D. Blair, PhD. The secondary title is “Surviving, Coping & Healing after the Sudden Death of a Loved One.” My Mom was fine until about 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday night when she started to feel sick and by 2:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon she was gone. The book has some very good ideas about coping with sudden loss.
I find that being in her home (the home I grew up in) is comforting and going through her things is becoming easier now at the nearly-9-month-mark. I have spent more time with my extended family and this has helped also. Vacationing with my daughter for a week was also precious; when I was with her and thought about Mom and felt sad, I told myself, “This is my holiday and I don’t have to go there or deal with that now.”
Before this loss, I would be sad for awhile after a friend or family member passed, but I would get on with life rather quickly, believing that I would now be living life not just for me but also for that person, so doing good things became a stronger goal.
This loss has thrown me for a loop (as they say). I feel like I’ve not really grieved before and now I’m learning how to cope in a very fundamental way.
Kathie, thanks for sharing this. This is a testimony to how much you love your Mother. And thanks to Michael and Lee for this question. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. You are not alone!
The Question Asker’s comments resonated with me:
“As you age, and the people you know also age, death becomes more frequent. There may also be an unexpected death from someone who dies earlier than expected.
Eventually, if you get old enough, loss may seem like a nearly-everyday occurrence.”
I’m 76 now so I’m getting used to death. My Christian faith makes it easier for me to suffer the loss of a friend or family member. Someone compared death to a ship that sails beyond the horizon. You can’t see it anymore but it’s just out of sight. Jesus rose from the dead – I don’t see how anyone can dispute that. So, my faith teaches me that there is life after death, so death isn’t permanent. That may be little consolation when a loved one dies suddenly, especially a child or young person.
In my prayer time lately, I’ve been reflecting on the suffering that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, suffered at his death on the cross. She witnessed his crucifixion and death and held his dead body in her arms. As gory as this sounds, she must have been overjoyed when he appeared to her after his resurrection.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed how we experience lots of smaller losses in life, such as when a friend moves away, or when we suffer a job loss, or simply start having aches and pains from aging. Often, my first instinct is to rationalize the loss away, and try to ignore the pain I’m feeling. That doesn’t work very well, in my opinion. Now I’m becoming more aware of my feelings of grief. For me, the alternative to grief is numbness, and I don’t think numbing oneself is the solution.
I hope this makes sense to you, the reader, and helps contribute to this conversation. Comments and questions are welcome.