Feeling the loss of a future dream

It can feel only natural that we want to work towards our future. We want to organise our life so that, in some distant time, we can release the equity from our home, draw on our carefully managed pensions and cash in our shares. We will have dedicated our lives to building this safe, secure future for ourselves and for our family and by the time we get to retirement we will deserve the opportunity to spend the remainder of our lives doing absolutely whatever we like, be it fishing, gardening, cruising the world, or simply spending it with the grandchildren, family and friends.

This is the prize for which we have worked so hard to achieve.

Progress towards this goal can be hindered at any stage: infertility can mean we have no children or grandchildren to spend time with; illness or accident can cause us to become less able to achieve our dream, or can take the life of somebody close with whom we have planned to spend this time. Relationships may break down, family or friends may relocate to distant places. Any of these and more can divert the course of progress towards our planned retirement.

Maybe we are reaching retirement age after working, head down, for many decades. Maybe there is a diagnosis; an accident; a severe illness; a death. Everything changes and suddenly the future is not what we planned for.

We look back and notice the life we have missed while putting all of our energy into working for the future.

Working with a professional counsellor we can explore the feelings which come from the loss of our planned future. Often the feelings can be confusing; they may be hidden within our emotional response to the diagnosis, the loss or bereavement itself. Perhaps we feel frustration and anger at our diagnosis: how can it be fair when we have worked so hard all our lives? Maybe we feel anger at our partner following their diagnosis or even their death, quickly followed by a sense of guilt; after all, they didn’t intend to become ill or to leave us.

In therapy, we can own these feelings, explore them without fear of judgement or criticism. It may be true that the reality of our situation cannot be changed, and yet maybe our emotions and our reactions to that reality can be understood in a more helpful way.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Welling, South East London/Kent, DA16

Written by Steve Hughes

Welling, South East London/Kent, DA16

Steve Hughes is an integrative counsellor working in the suffolk market town of Sudbury. He works in the third sector as well as in private practice and has experience working with a diverse clientele with a complex mix of presenting issues.

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