How finding you again after a loss... isn't lost

Who am I, and how do I find me again? I hear this many times in the therapy room and the echoes of the heartbreak that come with it.


Whilst as a therapist I cannot change the situation, being able to listen, without judgement, is the one gift I can provide at such challenging times.

Understanding loss

Expressions of sadness, anger, and frustration all fill the room. This is usually because my client feels they haven't had a choice, or believes they are 'not good enough', to manage things differently.

Loss is such a personal experience. People manage it differently. In many cases, it represents a loved one having passed, a relationship that has ended or is challenged, or someone recovering from surgery, and now feels less of the person they once were.

With time, I see how they find the confidence to share their personal definition of what loss means to them. The impact it has had on their life; family and friends included.

It all provides a unique experience. Maybe you are in this situation right now and need support. Maybe, you hear yourself saying something similar to:

'I used to laugh so much with my mum - we shared the same sense of humour, I miss her so much. I find it hard to laugh now.'

'My partner made me feel attractive - now we are separated, I have lost interest in myself, as I feel I have no reason to try.'

'I loved being around my children - now they have moved out, I am struggling to find my purpose again.'

If any of these sound like you - talking to a qualified counselling therapist could help.  They will listen to you as explore your meaning of loss and look at safe ways of how you can work towards finding you again.

It's normal for life challenges and general day-to-day chores to become overwhelming. It is easy to lose a connection with who you really are, and what makes you - you.

When I ask a client -who they are - they often label themselves as a parent, son, daughter, partner. Defined by the roles they feel they have in life - or the expectations from others. I hear how people describe themselves as being part of or belonging to someone else. 

How many times have you heard yourself say 'Oh I am just her daughter', or have been introduced as just  'someone's partner'? What happens when you no longer 'belong to that person' How does that leave you feeling about who you are now?

Of course, for some, this is muddied waters - filled with frustration, anger, guilt and sadness. The loss of 'self' or identity can prove to be achallenging area to explore - often avoided for fear of what lies beneath.

Counselling therapy with the right therapist for youcan provide a safe and confidential space for such times.

What will I discuss in therapy?

Each client is unique - and you will always have a choice on what you wish to discuss. However, as a guide, sessions usually start with gaining an understanding of the presenting issue, this is - what do you wish to focus on?

Subsequently, as the therapeutic relationship develops - you may find it ok to speak of deeper, more troubling issues. Layer by layer, we would explore how these have influenced your self-worth. This could be followed up with ways in which new thought patterns could boost, your self-esteem and self-worth.

For example, a client has recently become an 'empty nester' - both children are now at university. She is struggling with accepting the loss of being a hands-on mother. Here, loss could represent a loss of identity and confidence. She could have felt emotionally dependent upon the children and now struggles to know who she is without them.

In this instance, establishing why the client felt emotionally dependent on her children would be beneficial. Furthermore, what experiences in life may have contributed to these feelings and beliefs?

How can therapy assist in regaining that lost part of me?

Counselling therapy can support you in regaining parts of yourself. It can provide an understanding of what you need in order to feel likeyouagain. It can assist in the acceptance of what can be changed and what cannot, in forgiveness and getting that bounce back into your step!

Therapy is a process which takes time and commitment. I often describe to clients that finding 'self'  is like a jigsaw puzzle. Each colourful piece represents an experience, a thought, or a belief that has shaped the way they feel about themselves. Piece by piece, we work together to see the picture they build - being aware of any missing pieces.

Missing pieces... where do I find them?

At this point, this may sound a little overwhelming. Please be reassured you are not alone in feeling this.

I have worked with many clients who sadly cannot change their outcome. Yet it always brings joy when I hear how they still manage to achieve a positive appreciation of their growth and change. Often, this relates to accepting how past events have influenced their self-esteem, and now realising that they were not to blame.

By supporting the client with compassion and genuine empathy - they often start to heal. Listening and reflecting on how they see and feel their loss often contributes to it becoming more manageable in time. Eventually, they find the courage to start to live life again, with a renewed perspective and sense of self.

So, if you feel you have the courage and commitment to reconnect with what you feel is lost - please have hope; as 'self' is the one relationship which stays with us throughout.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 4DU
Written by Jacqueline Ainscough, Dip.Couns MBACP Counselling Support for Adults &Young People
Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 4DU

Jacqui Ainscough is a Person Centred Therapist - working in Northwich, Cheshire and also volunteers as a McMillans therapist in a Cheshire NHS hospital.

Her aim is to support clients through challenging times, with her warm, empathetic and trustworthy approach - whilst they explore their past, present and future at a pace which suits them.

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