Understanding and Dealing with Loss and Its Causes
So, what is loss? When we consider loss we immediately think of bereavement. Losing a friend, a family member or a pet are all examples of having an important part of our lives taken away from us.
But there are different types of loss, just as there are different causes of loss. Losing a job or experiencing the end of a relationship can trigger similar feelings of grief, and can benefit from similar techniques and processes as we recover from grief and approach a place of acceptance.
When someone, or something, disappears abruptly from our lives, it leaves a painful void. Other feelings and actions may rush to fill that vacuum, some helpful and some not.
By understanding what you are going through and staying aware of the process, you can monitor, appreciate and take control of the changes that you experience while coping with loss.
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and then Acceptance.
These are the 5 stages of grief first described by Swiss-American Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969. This “Kübler-Ross Model” has remained an enduring description of the process that most of us go through in the weeks and months following an experience of loss.
While recognition of these stages can help us to recognise what is happening to us as we deal with grief, we still have to endure the stages.
Here are a few tips for different types of loss that people can encounter.
Bereavement when a loved one passes away
The most intense experience of loss we can go through is the bereavement of losing someone close to us. The feelings we experience at this time can be quite overwhelming.
While the cliché that time is a healer certainly holds true, it’s very hard to believe when we’re struggling with the early stages of grief. We can often take some comfort in sharing our feelings with the people close to us, though.
Drawing on support while making arrangements
When we’re overcome with emotion, dealing with funeral arrangements can seem like an impossibly daunting task. Now can be the time to draw upon the help of friends and family. People often feel helpless around those that have been bereaved and they will often be glad of the opportunity to help you out in a practical way when it comes to the arrangements.
The funeral itself helps to bring a shared sense of closure for you and those around you. Take the opportunity to share your feelings with others that knew the deceased and don’t be afraid to take people up on their offers of support.
Getting it out in the open
Sharing your experiences with somebody else that knew the deceased can be a valuable way to externalise feelings you might be dwelling on. It will help you to feel less isolated, and you’ll probably be helping the other person to feel better too. But you don’t have to limit yourself to your immediate circle. Seeking out support from local groups or searching for content online can help too.
Reading and writing about grief
Reading about other people’s experiences of grief is more accessible than ever with the rising trend in blogs about experiences of bereavement and grief. This article discusses writing about loss and recommends 5 great blogs covering bereavement.
You can read and relate to people suffering similar experiences all over the world, or even write your own. Many find the action of writing about their emotions incredibly therapeutic – even if they never show it to anyone. It can help you to understand how you’re feeling, but also, looking back at previous weeks’ writings can help you gain perspective and see how far you’ve come.
How to deal with losing a best friend
We share so much with our friends, and when we lose one, whether that’s through death, or through other circumstances, it brings great difficulty. It can often leave us finding it hard to rediscover joy in the activities that we used to do together. It may be that you enjoyed a level of intimacy with your very best friend that you didn’t share with anyone else. It might be that you shared humour, discussed taboo subjects, confided secrets, shared feelings that were uncomfortable to share with anyone else.
It will take time to develop new relationships that may come to fulfil those needs. In the meantime, professional bereavement counselling can fill that void. So, if you do explore counselling, it’s a good idea to truly buy in to it and really let your guard down, so as not to let the flow of intimate communication come to an abrupt halt.
Losing a pet
It’s important not to trivialise the extent to which the loss of a pet can affect us. Pets become part of our families and in some cases stay with us for many years. It’s not an easy thing to deal with when they pass away. If a difficult decision has to be made about ending their suffering, this can add yet more complication, guilt and distress at an already very upsetting time.
This type of bereavement is less widely recognised in society, so support can seem less forthcoming. However, similar strategies can be adopted to when we lose human friends. Reaching out to other people, either online or in really life, can be a huge help.
When therapy can help
When we’re bereaved, grief is a perfectly normal reaction. Psychologically, we can even view it as a healthy process for us to pass through as we adjust to our loss. However, the shock and intensity of the feelings we experience can sometimes lead on to more involved difficulties that can benefit from therapeutic treatment. If you feel the need to seek professional help, Therapy For You offers that deal with bereavement, and other kinds of loss.
How to deal with a break up
One important thing to remember is to respect the other person’s wishes. Our natural compulsion to fix the situation that is causing us pain can lead us to want to engage again and again with the person that has ended a relationship with us. However, it’s often the case that no amount of reasoning or bargaining can change the mind of someone that has made the decision that they no longer wish to be part of a relationship. Respecting that decision before we are in a position to accept it is a tough thing to have to do, but it’s usually the best course.
As unbearable as the painful feeling may be in the moment, it’s important to try to remember that the most powerful factor for your recovery is time. Anyone that has experienced a difficult breakup will tell you that time will bring relief from painful feelings. The fact that we have to be patient can be a difficult one to accept, but ultimately it’s our only option and it will put us in a better position to move on.
Time allows us the opportunity for new things to develop and our lives to expand and grow again – to become more than the loss. So how we fill our time is very important.
How to get over losing a job
If your employment has been ended by your employer, it can feel like the end of life as you know it. While moving on might seem like a huge mountain to climb, by writing the steps down you need to take, and tackling them one at a time, you can regain focus and set a clear path. If you can get on with the practicalities of securing your financial and living arrangements, updating your CV and seeking new employment, you could prevent the situation from worsening.
In addition, you may find that pouring your energy into improving your circumstances helps to fill your time, occupy your mind and help your mood. Staying in touch with former colleagues and keeping up with your daily routine, including getting up and going to bed at the same times, can help you to adjust.
Losing a job to physical or mental illness
This can feel doubly as problematic. As well as the problems associated with job loss, your mental illness may cause you to struggle with processing what has happened to you, having the capacity to find new employment and in dealing with how your illness may have compromised your job prospects.
The best way forward in these circumstances is to seek advice. In the first instance, you may have some recourse to your former employer. It might be that you can challenge their decision to let you go. Try to get someone on your side – maybe contact your union. Even if you are not a union member, if you contact the relevant body, they may be able to help.
If you’re too incapacitated to work, you may have to get in touch with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to secure employment support allowance (ESA). You may be asked to undergo a health assessment and attend a work-related activity group (WRAG). For advice on the process, you can visit www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org
How to help someone dealing with loss
It can be very difficult to know how to respond to another’s grief.
- Do you worry about saying the right things?
- Do you feel under stress to fix the things you can’t possibly fix?
- Perhaps you both get frustrated and upset when your efforts fall short?
In this situation, it’s important to have realistic expectations and not to become disheartened. The fact is you can’t possibly fix every situation – at least not all the time.
It’s always a good idea to be patient and to allow those suffering from a loss to grieve in their own way. There’s a delicate balance to be struck between allowing them the space to grieve in their own way and helpful, loving interventions that helps them on the path to feeling better.
Sometimes, just acknowledging someone’s feelings can be enough to reassure them and to let them know that you’re available for them when they’re ready to talk. If you’re struggling to know how to help a loved one, feel free to contact Therapy for You for free and confidential advice.
These are just a few tips on how to deal with loss. Everyone’s circumstances and experiences differ, which is why it can be a great idea to seek out some kind of interactive help that allows you to express your feelings and receive specific guidance. Therapy for You offers a number of routes to treatment that are appropriate for those suffering loss.
Therapy For You offers treatments designed to help with bereavement, and other kinds of loss too. To find out more, contact us on 01268 739 128 to book a telephone appointment with one of our qualified therapists.
If you are at a very low point and need immediate help, visit our crisis page or contact your GP for an emergency appointment.