In my role as a counselor, I’ve journeyed with many clients through their grief following a loss. A loss is not just the death of a person or pet; it can be the end of a relationship, a physical separation, a divorce, moving to a new place, leaving home for the first time, a physical illness that causes significant impairment, a change of jobs, retirement, etc.
Personally, as well as professionally, I’m no stranger to loss. Beloved grandparents, mentors, and cats have died. Caring co-workers have left for other jobs. Apartment leases have expired. Low back pain has limited my movement at times. And, most significantly to me, romantic relationships have ended. Through all of these experiences with loss, two things have become clear: 1) loss is an inevitable part of life; and 2) loss can lead to growth and transformation.
As an inevitable part of life, it’s been important for me to learn healthy ways to cope with loss. Ten, fifteen, even twenty years ago, I coped with loss by over- or under-eating. Keeping my stomach full or empty gave me control over that which cannot be controlled. Over- or under-eating, along with over-consumption of alcohol, taking drugs, or distracting with sex all serve as ways to disconnect. Today, I’m able to cope through blogging, journaling, reaching out to loved ones, and using my five senses to self-soothe (drinking herbal tea, lighting scented candles, taking a warm shower, etc.). What all of these coping skills have in common is their ability to provide the opportunity for connection.
Connecting is so important after a loss. By connecting to others who care, or connecting to my physical body through the senses, or connecting to my inner child or wise adult through journaling, I am giving myself permission to grieve. I’m remaining curious and inquisitive (see my last post) about my loss. I’m opening myself up to potential insights. It is through connection that loss can be transformative and growth-inducing.
May each of us find transformation and growth in loss.
Peace, joy, and health,