Life Transitions and Loss
Loss is an inescapable, universal experience. Grief is a natural part of dealing with loss and is an integral part of the healing process. Grief is a suffering that is unique, life altering and can be the most profound life experience known to man. Loss may result from a number of circumstances including, but not limited to loss of a spouse or sibling, loss of a pet, divorce and loss of health. Sudden loss brings shock, while ongoing, drawn-out loss brings exhaustion. Loss changes the expectations of daily life. It brings disbelief and despair.
Common grief reactions include frustration, questioning our ability to move forward and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Dealing with life transitions, even when they are planned for and anticipated like a job layoff, separation, children leaving home, entering retirement and senior hood, it is challenging to cope with the reality of all the changes. I can help ease the adjustment. Situations where the situation is more sudden and unexpected like infidelity and job loss may create severe negative emotional and psychological experiences.
It is critical to know that there is no right way to grieve and no one can gauge or categorize your level of suffering. In all cases grief hangs around much longer than expected, disrupts sleep, focus, enjoyment of life and often leaves one feeling alone, misunderstood and burdened with self doubt. Grief cannot be shoved down, denied and use of unhealthy coping techniques only aggravates the strength of the pain. Grief is never where we thought we left it. It is just under the surface and will seep out, showing up in the most unexpected and damaging ways. Moving through grief is the only way to find peace and create a new sense of normal.
Traumatic grief is described as being more intense, debilitating and longer lasting than other forms of grief. Severe loss can feel like the bottom has dropped out of your world and can bring you to your knees. It creates havoc and you can experience harsh and relentless emotional, psychosocial and somatic responses.
Traumatic grief can be due to loss of a spouse, loss of a late stage pregnancy, still birth, death due to suicide or murder, death of a child of any age and accumulative unexpected losses among others. It is important to note that context, strength and intensity of the relationship is what matters, not necessarily the type of loss.
Traumatic grief is a complicated process and it is a struggle to acknowledge the life-changing impact of loss. It affects every dimension of the self. It is despairing, isolating and overwhelming. It is depriving, mischievous and keeps you unbalanced. Grief is so personally unique and ever changing that getting your hands around it may seem impossible. Someone or something so important to you is gone, and you are left broken, empty and lost.
I have survived professional failures and personal heart break. I have also felt the searing pain and suffering of traumatic grief. I know many want to rush you through this process, want you to move on. Perhaps you are putting on a brave face and your friends, family, loved ones and fellow coworkers think you seem to be okay… but really, you feel like a fake. Inside you feel numb, hopeless, sad, lost, angry, guilty and overwhelmed. It can feel like walking through a fog or slowly trudging through mud. Life now feels heavy and forced and you feel exhausted and misunderstood. No one else will ever know exactly how you feel, but I do have some understanding.
You want to talk about what’s going on inside but you are afraid your friends or family will judge you or try to fix it. Or worse, they will offer up painful platitudes such as “they are now in a better place” or “God never gives you more than you can handle” or tell you just to get over it. You want to move through grief while still honouring your loved one. You have a safe space here with me!