Loss of a loved one: Losing aspects of ourselves
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Dr. Sidrah Muntaha, Chartered Clinical Psychologist, DClinPych, CPsychol, AFBPsS
2nd November, 20130 Comments
Most of us have experienced the loss of losing someone we love. Whether a family member, relative or friend, losing someone we love leaves a mark in our emotional world. When a loved one dies, we grieve, we mourn. Ideally, we receive support and sympathy from friends and we develop a connection with those around us who share our grief.
The intensity of Grief
Losing someone we love or once loved, whether through death, divorce or a significant relationship break-up, can lead to a profound sense of loneliness, despair, helplessness and feelings of abandonment. Most would say that time does not take away the pain or make it any more bearable. Rather, the sharpness of the pain fades, and is replaced by a dull ache which resurfaces during birthdays, Christmas, new year, anniversaries and other memorable occasions.
When it does resurface, the intensity can be overwhelming. Feelings can be just as raw as when the actual loss occurred. The only difference is, this time there may be very little support. This time, there may be few who would understand why you are still grieving whilst others ‘are over it’. People who once shared this loss with you, may now prefer not to be reminded. Others may be too distraught if you mention it, which can increase your distress.
Your relationship to the Loss
Sometimes we want to hold onto our loss, as it’s the only thing left of the person who is no longer with us. We keep their clothing, we store away their letters and we are resistant to changing parts of ourselves and our lives that were entwined with theirs. Other times, we do everything we can to avoid reminders, whether places, smells or textures…. anything that brings back memories. Many people live their entire lives this way, avoiding the pain by switching off from the emotional parts of themselves.
How can Psychological Therapy help?
Nothing can take away your pain or bring back your loved ones. However, psychological therapy can help you to acknowledge your loss, attend to the pain and cope with the impact it has on your sense of self. Those who choose to seek psychological therapy following a loss, find that it makes an enormous difference in their lives. Psychological Therapy allows you the opportunity to grieve fully, in a way that might not have been possible before. You will make sense of how this grief is linked with other losses in your life, and you will build a picture in your mind of how you can go on living without that person you imagined alongside you.
When we lose someone we love, we undeniably lose aspects of ourselves. We find ourselves having to start again, having to build again and having to piece together a fragmented sense of self. The emotional journey of becoming ‘whole’ again is a lonely task, but one that is necessary in order for us to remain emotionally connected and hopeful about the prospects of new beginnings.
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