Thursday, May 6, 2010

Coping with Loss

This is dedicated to everyone who has recently experienced tremendous loss. I wish comfort soon comes.

Grieving and loss are among the most difficult feelings with which to cope. We can feel a sense of loss at the time of a loved ones death, or even at the loss of a job, relationship, status, and anything else that we can grow emotionally attached to.

Last week I posted something on ownership. I bring it back to that topic because their can be no sense of loss without their first being a sense of ownership. We must first believe that we can possess something in order to feel the loss of a thing.

The process of grieving (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, & Acceptance) seems universal in that we all experience these stages though not in identical ways or durations. Getting passed denial invites pain, but this is progress. Reality must set in, which is why we have ceremonies (e.g. funerals) that force us to face the reality. Anger may build after that. Anger at the lost object for going away, anger at God for taking it away, and anger at self for not being good enough to hold on are common issues. Remember that anger is a secondary emotion and that the real emotion is sadness. That will help you through this stage, and prevent your anger from influencing you toward negative (acting-out) behavior too much. Bargaining is a hopeful place, and hope is comforting, but accepting that there are no bargains that can be made that will return the lost object to you is the way forward. You can however bargain on your future. Depression feels miserable but it is a sign of tremendous growth and progress. Remember that it is always darkest just before day. Finally, you can accept what has happened and see a clearer path forward.

If we get to a place where we can accept that nothing is ever truly possessed by us, then we would no longer risk losing. As that outcome is unlikely for most of us, perhaps it is better to focus on how we cope with loss. Do the best you can to cope with loss. Lean on friends and family. Turn your loss into someone else's gain. Use the loss to fuel a change for the better in your life. When you are ready, get on passed your past and get on with the present looking forward to the future.



  1. Well written. Loss is such a complex process that can make us grow if we let it. Whether big or small we need to take the time we need, then we can rebuild and move forward stronger and wiser.