Understanding grief and loss in our lives can help us cope with the difficult times. We are people who attach ourselves to people, pets, and things and when they are gone we miss them.

Types of Losses

  • Loss of a Loved one through death, divorce, separation OR even the death/loss of a pet animal.
  • Loss of long-held beliefs about our being invulnerable and immortal, because we have suffered a trauma, injury, illness.
  • Loss of ideas or beliefs about one’s world, self, or others.
  • Loss of ability to do things that we once did before.
  • Loss of our belief that we can control things by ourselves.
  • Loss of our identity when we lose a job.
  • Loss when children develop to different stages/leave/marry/etc.
  • Loss of any perceived type.

Types of Reactions to Losses

  • Anxiety, protest, moving faster, trying to control more (the Protest Phase).
  • This can be followed by depression, despair, and being passive and withdrawn (the Detachment Phase).
  • This is followed by being more hesitant to do much, avoiding, anger, conflicting feelings about attaching again, “I don’t need you anyways feelings,” and anger at the lost person, ability, body, other (the Dissociation Phase).
  • We experience different losses in varying ways, depending on the meaning of that loss in our life, and the time in our life’s course that it happens (the Differential Impact Phase)

Types of Consequences of Interpersonal Loss

  • Separation and bereavement losses highly impact our emotional and health status in negative ways.
  • We may want to “deal with it right now and confront the situation” to work it through.
  • Many times, we just want to run away and not feel the feelings anymore even though we know that impulsive decisions at the time of a loss/crisis are usually not very good ones (i.e., new relationship, new pet, new home).
  • We think it will be better if we “get away”. However, we really just don’t want to feel or think about it anymore.
  • Sometimes a delayed response allows time to shore up defenses before dealing with the difficult questions.
  • However, putting it away too long may make returning to dealing with it much harder and more fearful.
  • If we see ourselves as a victim, this adds to a sense of being weak, helpless, and not in control.
  • We lose the sense of meaning in our lives, are no longer over-optimistic, and fear the future.

Types of Normal/Healthy Recovery

  • Search for the meaning in the experience, i.e. The greater meaning.
  • Try to regain mastery over the event, problem, loss, injury.
  • Try to do something that helps you view yourself as handling the problem, illness, injury, which enhances your self-esteem.
  • Allow yourself to cry, fall-apart, grieve — as a strength!
  • See yourself as being transformed by the experience.
  • Talk about it, and Talk about it, early on — don’t run and hide in anger, trying to be strong, and not facing it.
  • Re-grieve old losses from the past — like childhood — to gain mastery.
  • Remember, the only way to heal is to feel!
  • In the end you will have learned to how to survive in the face of the anxiety over loss.
  • This allows you to become a stronger person, but it does not change the loss because that was real. Yet you survived and that is what is important.