Loss can have different meanings
In the past, I thought about bereavement, mourning and loss in a context of dying as we use these terms mostly when we speak about someone’s death. In the last couple of years, I have realized that bereavement is not related just to death and loss of someone and that someone can feel bereft for different kind of reasons. Every change in someone’s life inevitably brings some feelings of loss and sometimes even an exciting and beautiful event, as becoming a parent can trigger it.
Being in this new role can make someone feel both happy and sad. In most situations, we congratulate those who become parents and we are not aware how things inevitably change for them and how this new situation influences the relationship they have. As much as people try to prepare for this moment it is impossible to get the full perspective of the challenges that lie ahead.
For a woman the first loss is physical. Not being able to do things, which were previously normal can come as a shock. Losing an intimate relationship is something people often report in the counselling room as something they face.
All of the sudden there is this new person in your life who takes all your attention and strength and has priority to anything else.
Not having the time for yourself (being deprived of sleep doesn’t help either) can lead to feeling unhappy and sad. We might feel guilty to share these feelings with others because we are expected to be cheerful and lucky for having a newborn baby.
Not being able to talk about how we truly feel can distance ourselves from others but we all want to be connected so we try to put a ‘happy face’ as we feel guilty and ashamed for having these negative feelings. On top of that, it can seem unbelievably selfish to frame this experience in terms of “loss” when, in fact, we gained something – especially when many people struggle in various ways to become parents.
But loss is actually a longing for lost time and grief for who we once were. It takes time and effort to accept what we lost and to embrace what we gained – if ever for some. Loss is something that mostly stays with us; it is not something that you can easily get rid off but it is something that can be bearable if we have support and understanding of people around us.
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About Maja Tomse
Maya Tomse is an accredited psychologist and individual and couples counsellor with a 10 years experience of working with people in a variety of settings. She has worked and trained in four different countries which has given her a wealth of insights, which she integrates into her practice.