Grief and loss - Do you recognise this?
The focus of this article is unrecognised loss and how we respond to this.
Loss manifests in a multitude of ways - some are not necessarily easy to recognise. I wonder if any of these might resonate with you? Loss of our sense of self, loss of hope, loss of direction and meaning, loss of life as we know it, loss of the routines and relationships that are familiar to us, changes in our country that may bring a sense of anxiety and uncertainty. Of course this list is not exhaustive.
The recent referendum in the UK has certainly shown strong responses. Suddenly everyone has an opinion and seems to be interested. Thoughts seem to be around 'What's going to happen to me and my family?' and 'What's going to happen to our country?'. A pervading sense of gloom and anxiety fills the atmosphere. I wonder if what we might be experiencing individually and as a country is the grief of loss and the anxiety of the unknown. It is so important to hold on to hope.
In reflecting on Kubler Ross's grief cycle, it occurs to me that all loss (whether we recognise it or not) goes through a number of stages - shock, numbness, bargaining, anger, acceptance. Experience shows me that this process is not linear and the timeline is different for everyone.
Whenever there is a loss or a change that we hadn't expected it is normal to feel anxious about the future. It can be difficult to imagine a different kind of life in which we are content and peaceful. Yet change and loss happens all the time.
Sometimes people don't recognise that what they are feeling is loss. They are just aware of a sense of sadness, anger, feeling out of control, anxiety. This in itself can feel very alarming as people ask themselves 'What's wrong with me? Am I mad? Why am I so miserable?' Or perhaps we blame other people or circumstances for how we feel.
What is important is both to talk and to listen. This will help each one of us process our thoughts, feelings and response. We are more resilient than perhaps we think we are. We can choose our response to our loss. There is always something we can do to move forward and not be stuck. When we feel anxious there are steps that we can take to manage this so that we do not become overwhelmed. As we process our thoughts and feelings, in time we will come to accept those things which we have no influence over and cannot change.
It is always helpful to be kind to one another, to be respectful and honour the dignity of other people's humanity. Healthy relationships are essential for good psychological health. What might it be like if we were empathic to other people and were willing to support one another regardless of whether they are different from us or not. Is there someone that you know who is experiencing loss at the moment, could you support them? Or perhaps you have lost something precious to you, could you do with some support?
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About Stella Goddard
Grief and loss is something which I have experience of both personally and professionally. I understand the importance of becoming self-aware and taking responsibility for our own process. I also understand the importance of asking for help. This takes courage and is not a sign of weakness. To heal we need healthy supportive relationships.