Much of my focus on this blog, and in my yoga class, is about loss and grief as it relates to the death of a loved one. Quite simply, this is because it has been my most personal and profound experience, and in essence my teacher. By no means do I intend to minimize other types of losses and grief resulting from situations other than death. In fact, in today’s post I want to address loss as it touches all aspects of our life – with changes, transitions, growth and deterioration.
More than educating on types of losses one may encounter, I hope to convey that as a society, we need to look at how life (in all it’s ups and downs) effects us emotionally, and how we don’t need to be “diagnosed,” or “treated,” rather beheard and acknowledged that life is hard, and reaction to change is normal.
Imagine tossing a stone into a pond – the stone hits that water and sinks, leaving behind ripples that move in concentric, radiating circles towards the shore.
Think of the stone as the circumstance of change in your life – it doesn’t even have to be a bad change, it can be anything. Outward from that circumstance or incident, the ripples represent the impact and influence that change has on your life.
Change can be anything: loss of a job, change in health, retirement, children leaving home, getting married, deterioration of friendships or romantic relationships and countless more…
And the ripples…depend on your relationship to what what changed, or to the transition, circumstance in question. It’s never JUST about the Loss of _____. Loss and change extend into how we see ourselves, and how we see our place in the world, both now in the present moment but also through the memories of the past and plans for the future. For example:
- loss of a job or retirement = loss of financial security, loss of role (in both job environment and family), perhaps even status, loss of routine, loss of meaning…
- change in health = loss of security/trust in your body, loss of identity, loss in quality of life, loss of dreams, loss of life plan…
- children leaving home = loss of role/ feeling useful, loss of sense of family, loss of developed routine and meaning in life, loss of self-identity as mother/father figure, physical loss of children, and even the security of having more people at home…
- getting married = perceived loss of independence, loss of role as a single person, change in self identity, fears about the future…
If we can slow down and turn our attention inward, AND combine honest appraisal of your life change, AND have a little knowledge about how we naturally react to change and loss (grief), we can become empowered to sit with our pain/emotion/fear and understand that our experience is normal. It’s OK to cry…in fact, more than OK, it’s healthy. It’s normal to feel anxious and distracted, and even have difficulty with memory. It’s normal to have changes in sleeping patterns, and physical symptoms of grief such as fatigue and aches and pains. It’s normal to have volatile emotions. Expected, real, understandable, acceptable, healthy, albeit difficult.
Finding supportive, non-judgemental companions who can lend a listening ear is valuable. As we become aware of how our bodies/minds/souls respond to loss, we need to express it outside ourselves, via talking, journalling etc.
Most importantly, trust yourself, and trust your experience. Give yourself permission to let the changes, transitions and losses in life move you – grieving what you had, what you lost, how you’ve changed. In order to heal grief, you must move through it…