Lunch with a friend, who is suffering a personal loss, prompted me to write on this topic today. One thing I know for sure is that loss is hard. Whether you’ve lost a loved one, lost a job, lost a friendship, lost your home, lost a competition or lost your self-respect, loss has hit all of us at one time or another. And, if you’re lucky enough that it hasn’t up to this point, just know that at some time in the future, it likely will.
Loss leaves us with a hole. Sometimes it’s a hole in our heart for the death of a loved one or the loss of a friendship. Sometimes, it just causes a heavy blanket of sadness or grief and sometimes the inability to act. Other times it leaves a hole in our bank accounts or causes us to hang our heads in shame.
Loss also will normally involve change, which is another word I’ve blogged about previously. Change is the result of having to deal with the loss. So, now we have the two most dreaded words in the same sentence – “loss” and “change”.
I have decided that about the only thing I want to lose is weight. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have the self-control to change my eating habits to attain that loss. Oops, there I go again, using those dreaded two words in the same sentence.
A loss usually is followed by grief. Yes, it’s normal to grieve something we’ve lost. Many of us know the grief of losing a beloved pet. While others, who are pet-free, may never understand why we grieve. Heck, even graduating from college can trigger a grief response because we are losing one thing (our college years) and having to change to adapt to supporting ourselves in a chosen career.
The larger the loss, the deeper the grief. Since grief is very personal, we will all grieve in different ways. Some grieve openly while others do it privately. There is also not a timetable for dealing with a loss. It may take others longer than some to “get over” something. And, some things we never get over – we just learn to adjust.
HelpingGuide.org actually details the 5-step process you will go through when dealing with loss:
- Denial – “This can’t be happening to me.”
- Anger – “Why is this happening to me? Who is to blame?”
- Bargaining – “Make this not happen and, in return, I will _____.”
- Depression – “I’m too sad to do anything.”
- Acceptance – “I’m at peace with what happened.”
If someone like HelpingGuide.org has identified a process, then surely grieving a loss is normal. For some reason, just knowing that we’re not alone – that others have gone through something similar – makes us feel better. Remember the old adage, “Misery loves company”? While I don’t think any of us wish to see anyone else suffer, for some reason it helps us to feel that we’re at least “normal” because others have gone through this and survived – and some have actually thrived.
When loss comes knocking at your door and forces you to change something, I hope you’ll remember that you’re not alone. Others have gone before you and others will come after you. Here’s hoping that those who have gone before will reach out a helping hand and lend their wisdom. And, you can do the same for those who follow.
I’m praying for my friend and hope that she found comfort, and help, in our conversation today. I hope she also believed me when I told her that someday she would look back from her new normal and be proud of what she worked through and what she will have accomplished.