How to Cope with Loss
Life consists of a series of losses from the time we are born to the time we die. As we grow older, we lose many things, both big and small, until we ultimately come face to face with our final loss – the end of our lives.
As years go by, many people lose their hair, teeth, muscle mass, energy and mobility. Other losses include loss of hearing or vision, loss of memory, and other medical afflictions that sometimes accompany aging. On an emotional level, we lose jobs, dreams, and people we love. Some people believe that the golden years are the best years yet, whereas many people find them challenging to endure due to the snowball of losses.
These weighty truths are offset by our attempts to seek and find happiness, rewards, love, amusement, creative outlets, and uplifting activities. For some people, the pros greatly outweigh the cons. Some people grow old gracefully, live long and healthy lives, and die peacefully in their sleep. But even these people have faced numerous losses in their lifetime. Loss is inevitable for everyone.
Furthermore, some people suffer significant losses fairly early in life and are left feeling strongly deprived. For example, there are young children who have lost their parents, homes, siblings, friends, or all of the above. However, most people generally experience an equal balance of loss and gain, luck and pain.
So how can we best manage our way through these losses? There is no one-size-fits-all formula, but there are helpful tips that can alleviate the pain of loss and help guide you down the road to healing.
1. Face the loss.
Don’t ignore or deny your loss. It’s common for some people to turn to a form of escapism, such as alcohol, drugs, or excessive sleep when they are grieving. Allow yourself to feel your feelings instead, and try to stray from unhealthy habits that make you vulnerable to depression or addiction.
2. Share your pain.
Don’t keep your feelings bottled up. Talking about how we feel helps us process and come to terms with what we’ve lost. However, try not to overdo these conversations, as they could cause others to feel a loss of sympathy or ability to be fully supportive due to being overwhelmed by your level of suffering.
3. Remember what you still have.
Remind yourself of all the wonderful and meaningful things in your life. Count your blessings, and shift your focus to everything you have to be grateful for. This will help your mind refocus on what you have, rather than on what you lack.
4. Stay busy.
Keep yourself busy with enjoyable activities you can still do. Not only will this aid in the acceptance of your loss, but it will fight off deepening depression due to a process known as behavioral activation.
5. Consider seeing a qualified psychotherapist.
Having a few meetings with a professional psychotherapist can help you come to terms with your loss and prevent you from sinking into clinical depression. A therapist can serve as a neutral source of support in your life and help you make sense of your various emotions. You can speak with them as much as you need to about your loss without fear of overwhelming them, and they will take your hand on your journey towards release, acceptance and healing.