- Have you experienced the shock of a sudden and unexpected loss of a person very close to you?
- Have you witnessed the slow deterioration of a parent, or friend where his former vitality has disappeared? Do you feel helpless?
- Are you living with “something missing” or “a hole in your heart”?
- Do you notice a tightness in your throat, a hollowness in your stomach, or a numbness?
- Do you find yourself pining or yearning for the lost one and your former life?
- Are you struggling with sleep — either too much or too little?
- Perhaps you want only to withdraw from life and stay away from others who want to help?
- Do you imagine that the loss has not occurred and that the loved one will return?
- Are you angry that things could not have been different?
- Do you blame yourself for not having done…?
- Have you been faced with the loss of your own former good health?
- Have you had major changes in your life like a new job, a different home, family members leaving the home?
- Do you find yourself forgetting things and being disorganized?
- Do you have a nagging feeling that things are “not right” with you but you cannot identify why?
- Do you find it “too much” to cope with things that you did easily in the past?
Loss is an inescapable part of living. It can affect us in devastating or subtle ways with all the variations in between. Some losses are necessary for us to learn and grow. But loss and grief are usually experienced as similar to depression with sadness, pain, fear, anger and feelings of helplessness and despair. Grief can disturb our normal functioning, our sense of wholeness, our self confidence and, of course, and our enjoyment of life. It can also worry our partners, families, friends who are likely dealing with their own loss at the same time. We must find a way to go through a mourning process in order to heal, whether the loss was recent or many years ago.
Often, we deny our sadness in the beginning or we try to push it out of our minds later on because “we should be over it by now”. But recognition and acceptance of the loss are the first steps toward recovery and reorganization. Sometimes, we fear healing because it might seem like giving up our love and connection to the lost one. Frequently, we try to seal off our feelings because they are too painful to face. We wonder what the future will be like and try to protect ourselves from facing new challenges and relationships for fear of other loss. But when we hurt or we cannot manage our normal activities, we must seek ways to heal.
Much has been written about grief and mourning:
- There is no grief which time does not lessen and soften.
- Healing moves at its own pace; what is a burden one day may be a gift another day.
- How do you turn an open wound into a distant ache?
- Grieving takes as long as it takes.
- “When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us”. — Helen Keller
- “Give sorrow words, the grief that does not speak,
- Whispers the o’er fraught heart and bids it break”. – Wm Shakespeare
- Grieving alone lasts forever, grieving together, heals.
Treatment following Loss:
- Seeking help and sharing your feelings with a trusted friend may be adequate. However, sometimes people suggest that you should not talk about your sadness, and they find it hard to listen to your feelings even if they would like to.
- Psychotherapy or counselling, as practiced by the therapists in our office, offers a professional accompaniment for you in your healing process. They are familiar with the phases of grief and recovery and will help you with the emotional and mental issues with which you are struggling. These unresolved feelings and thoughts can often affect our physical and spiritual health. Our therapists are also skilled at helping your couple and family, as a group, with its grief work.
- Local grief and mourning groups can be found through the CLSC, the hospital, the Internet or other resource centres in your neighbourhood. Many people find sharing their grief with others in the same situation, can be restorative.
Self help that you can start right now:
- Take time to rest and recuperate because you have had an injury. Calming self care is essential. Try to sleep and eat, even when you do not feel like it.
- Allow yourself to be cared for and give others some idea of what kind of help you need like prepared dishes, babysitting so you can relax, their company or not.
- Let yourself remember the past and write about it if you feel like it.
- Write a daily journal to help acknowledge the loss and externalize your feelings.
- When you have recovered some energy, make time for activities, return to a modified routine that may include daily walks, excursions or gradual return to work.
- Seek out books that talk about grief and mourning and reveal other people’s experiences, if this approach would be helpful. The bookstores and libraries are full of them.