Dealing with loss and grief can present an opportunity to learn new coping methods, which will prepare us for a more significant loss in the future. However, not all loss is the same. Some kinds of losses can be disappointing, but we move on fairly easily. Other losses provide a challenge in terms of learning new coping methods. And unfortunately, some losses knock us to the ground.
There are losses in life that remain in our gut every time we think of them, such as the death of a mate or even worse, the loss of a child. Even with that, it’s possible to find a new “normal.”
Dealing With Loss in General
Experiencing a loss involves moving through many stages of grief before coming to an eventual acceptance of the reality of “what is.” First shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, and depression. Then we begin an upward turn and start to work things out through reconstruction, hope, and acceptance.
Different losses present different challenges and experiences along the way to acceptance. Let’s take a look at the different types of loss we all may experience in a lifetime.
Dealing With Loss of Contact With Ongoing or Nourishing Relationships
Whether this results in a temporary or permanent situation, the process of dealing with it is the same: acceptance and making necessary changes. The current COVID-19 crisis artificially confines you in your home with only your family, roommate, partner, or yourself. This confinement prevents you from easily making the external connections that you have previously enjoyed. It will now take exerted effort to maintain those connections or to suspend reaching out to your friends temporarily.
To continue the connection in your life, you may be the one who reaches out to your family and friends. Don’t let this define your relationship, however. People react to new and challenging circumstances in different ways. Some reach out, and others may withdraw. Therefore, it’s even more important to do the reaching out.
It’s not healthy to completely isolate. Explore various ways of keeping in touch with family and friends. Remember that you may need to be the one who initiates contact. That’s ok. Connections in our life are essential for emotional and physical health.
Fortunately, there are apps available that enable people to connect online with family and friends during these challenging times. If you’re open to online chatting, it’s easy to use these apps online, and many of them afford privacy. Some apps are free. Others may have a cost. However, some people may be uncomfortable using unfamiliar technology to stay in touch with others around them. Thank goodness for the telephone!
Increased Tension With Your Mate, Roommate or Family
When artificially confined, people tend to feel their space more physically and consciously. This added stress makes it easier to recognize those little things that bother us, and they now feel like they are hitting us between the eyes.
It’s not necessarily anything against the other person, but often is more about doing things differently. Remember, we all have our own “preferences” for how we live our life. It might be how much we clean our apartment, or how much groceries to stock up on, or not.
Try to allow for a bit more “friction” and tension under challenging times. Be aware of those times and make an effort to talk through those situations, or even better; let it go. Understand that during times of stress and the unknown, people revert to their own ways of behaving. It’s more of an unconscious process.
If you do bump heads, try to talk things out in a productive way, and avoid being harsh. Apologizing means you realize you may have been unkind in some way and that it matters to you. Hopefully, the other person accepts this with grace because it comes from a good place.
Dealing with potential financial loss, especially, truly hits us at our very core. It touches almost all of the parts of our everyday life: food, housing, clothing, medical costs, vacations, eating out, retirement plans, etc.
When one’s job is lost, it raises worry to a whole other level. It’s about the “unknown” and when things will get back to their “normal” as before. Will we be behind in our rent or house payments? What about the cost of food on the table? It even comes down to being unable to pay for entertainment such as TV – something we take for granted every day.
In times of the unknown, it’s essential to talk about the situation with family and to discuss various options. Often, solutions may not be what you had hoped for, but they may be the best of options available to you. Try to be open-minded about various possibilities.
At the end of this article, I have listed various sources for financial assistance information.
More than anything, remember, it won’t always be this way. Crises come, and they go. Do the best you can to stay hopeful and to be on top of your financial situation, even if it means getting the assistance you never planned on accepting.
Dealing With Loss Of A Mate Or Family Member
Especially in times of crisis, such as COVID-19, potential loss becomes a reality for some people. It may be unexpected and can blind-side people. For others, it has been a long road for the physical or mental decline of a loved one. Regardless of the cause and age of the person, a loss is a loss any way you look at it.
Like all types of loss, this experience often involves a feeling of complete loss of control. It’s something that happens to us, sometimes for no apparent reason. It can affect the very young and innocent, as well as the aged and the infirmed. It often can feel as if it happened for the wrong reasons, or that it happened to an exceptionally good person.
It’s common to withdraw from others when we feel a profound loss. But this is not healthy to do. With the loss of a family member or friend, it’s important to stay connected with others. These are trusted people who will not allow you or the person directly affected by the loss to withdraw from needed support. Or you may be the one who needs to reach out for the person who experienced the loss more directly.
Without others looking out for you, it’s too easy to continue to withdraw at deeper levels. Isolation is not healthy. If you feel you need to gather your thoughts and take some time alone, that’s fine. But don’t allow yourself to isolate yourself from healthy support completely. Tell people what you need and will work best for you, as long as it is not ongoing isolation.
Don’t be surprised if one loss brings up past losses for you as well. The return of previous loss is normal and will subside over time as you heal.
Health Issues Cause a Sense of Loss
Sometimes, our health may decline, whether it is a temporary or permanent path. A decline in health is a loss in your regular life as you have always known it. Rather than lose hope, try to do the best you can in a challenging situation. We all age over time, and with that come various changes in our level of functioning.
However, illnesses are challenging at any age. It’s important to take care of yourself and do what is being recommended for you by your healthcare provider. Proper self-care allows you to gain as much in control of your illness as possible. If you feel uncomfortable about the plan your doctor has made for you, take control and consult with another physician. You still have choices.
Changes in our health take time for us to adjust. This change alters our “norm,” whether it negatively affects our freedom to get around, or lessens our ability to do things we enjoyed in the past. It’s essential to have loving and helpful people around you, whether family, friends, or healthcare workers.
Most importantly, remember that loss lessens over time and becomes more manageable. You will eventually find your new “normal.” It can never be the same as when your family member or friend was around, or you were healthy or employed. Eventually, loss becomes a bit easier as the days pass. Some days are more challenging than others, but over time, things become a new “normal” for you.
It’s crucial in times of loss to eat healthily and to get enough sleep. If this is a challenge for you, don’t hesitate to contact your family physician. Take care.
Links for financial assistance information: