Experiencing the loss of a loved one can be difficult, especially if it’s unexpected. While death is inevitable, it’s one of the eventualities of life that few of us are willing to admit to or acknowledge. So, when you experience loss, the shock of the moment can leave us overwhelmed by intense emotions, and even feeling a bit lost ourselves.
Loss changes everything, from the way you view the world to how we experience even the simplest of things, like a bright, sunny day or a child’s laughter. With this shifting outlook comes reflection, lessons in living—as opposed to dying—and the understanding that, with our lives so fragile and in flux, it serves us better to be present in the moment, rather than dwelling in the past or anxiously anticipating the future.
In other words, confronting death is, for those who remain behind, a time to reflect on the moment, gain perspective and forge a new path. This is not an easy journey, and it’s one that can days, weeks, months or even years to reveal itself and play out. Grieving is not a straight line from sad back to some sense of normalcy. It’s a spiral, with highs and lows and in-between that will, eventually, bring you back to center. It may be a changed center from the one you experienced before, but, with patience and self-compassion, you can move through it to a place of healing and return, if not to joy, at least to balance and harmony.
Sometimes, grieving isn’t about being left behind. It’s about grieving the living. When someone who we were close with—a parent, sibling, child, friend or other intimate connection—removes him or herself from our lives and becomes estranged, the negative emotional can have just as much of an impact as if they had died. This is especially true if we don’t understand why they’ve removed themselves from our lives, so we get, if not closure, at least some sense of completion. Grieving the living can be just as difficult, and in some ways more difficult, than grieving the dead, because there is no identifiable end to the relationship. It simply hangs there, unfinished, leaving us to wonder and maybe even hope, with no sense of completion.
Grieving is a private experience, and no one can truly empathize with what you’re going through. On the other hand, there are elements of your grieving and the loss you’ve experienced that are common ground for those who have experienced the same thing. A seasoned counselor can help you confront your loss and support you in working through the feelings and intense emotions it may have brought up for you. Grieving isn’t always a direct thing and sometimes it takes an objective eye to help you see how your experience of loss and the grief you feel are impacting other parts of your life and decision-making.
If you have experienced a loss, seeking counseling may be helpful. Here, at Greater Hartford Counseling Center, we have extensive experience working with those who have suffered the loss of a love one and are seeking ways to adequately cope.