Loss and its Many Guises

Published Friday, 20th November 2020

Loss and its Many Guises:

What does the term loss mean to you?

You may associate loss soley with bereavement. Although this may have changed with the recent pandemic, as discussions around loss and its many forms have opened up. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “The fact or process of losing something or someone” or “The feeling of grief after losing someone or something of value.”

During my training as a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist my mind was opened to the concept of loss and its many forms. I’d like to share my learnings with you, in case you, like I was, are unaware of the various forms of loss and their possible impact.

Loss of a job, a friendship, retirement, children leaving home, loss of health, loss of finances, loss of a relationship, loss of a pet, loss of childhood, moving country – loss of culture or physical connection with friends and family, loss of a relationship that never was either by physical or by emotional absence, loss due to death which can lead to loss of identity. Moving home, even if it’s considered an upgrade can create a sense of loss, as that home may have meant a great deal to you

If you look at this list which is by no means a completed list of losses, are you surprised by how much you can identify with? Have you experienced multiple losses in your life without even realising?

Do you quantify levels of loss to validate feelings of sadness? Do you feel allowed to express your feelings around loss? My new awareness has changed my view of loss. My understanding of it, has created willingness to be open to the emotions that it evokes in myself and others. Acknowledgment of loss and processing it can be very therapeutic as it’s releasing feelings that may have been suppressed.

Does our society have an influence over how we express our grief? Grief I hear you say but I thought you were talking about loss not death. Grief - too strong a word? My thoughts previously were that the word grief was only to be used around loss due to death. It was too dramatic for other losses. Again, back to the weighing up of and quantifying the emotions felt and if they are allowed and acceptable.

The oxford dictionary defines grief as “a very sad feeling, especially when somebody dies, something that makes you feel very sad, problems and worry.” With these definitions in mind I ask you to reconsider if grief is too strong a word or actually a word that captures the impact of loss quite aptly.

Now I think more of the term “grief reaction” where the emotions of grief are triggered by a form of loss. These emotions can be anything from anxiety, sadness, unfairness, anger, frustration, guilt, hate, blame, yearning, madness, calm, apathy, pity, love, happy, depression, pain, disbelief, sleeplessness, helplessness. An image of a cauldron springs to my mind, simmering away and when loss is experienced, a big spoon comes along giving an almighty stir. Like a soup where the vegetables have sunk to the bottom and are stirred to the surface, not all at once, one by one, emotion by emotion and sometimes a few come together.

My invitation to you is to consider loss, the varying forms of it and the emotions associated with it. With this knowledge, might you be more compassionate with yourself and others as a result of this? Granting ourselves permission to feel the way we do and working with those feelings is important. Important for overall health and well- being.

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