Loss is something that we do not prepare to face, but it is something that catches us each off guard. It hits us out of nowhere, leaving us gasping for air in hopes of a safe landing. Loss comes wrapped in different ways. Loss of a job, loss of a loved one, loss of a sense of security, and loss of identity.
Each of these areas are important in their own way but they do not last forever. The idea of them lasting forever is the hardest for us to understand. Deep down we, as humans, long for these things to last forever. Then, when loss happens, we scramble all the missing pieces while trying to make sense of what happened.
We ask the question “why” while bargaining for different scenarios to have taken place instead. Sooner or later we are landing in the different stages of grief.
Often, we walk through each of these stages without being aware of the journey. It’s how we make sense of the loss we experienced.
Grieving a loss can’t be rushed. It is not linear; you’ll have ups and downs throughout the season. Grieving a loss can come and go at random times. Sometimes the best thing you can give yourself is time and acknowledgment of the loss. Allowing yourself to process the loss will help you get to the other side.
If the loss is never dealt with, it has a way of taking you hostage, of taking you under with it. There are many ways of dealing with loss that are considered unhealthy, which will just make things worse.
How do you travel the waters of loss? How do you get to the other side without caving in or giving up? How do you survive loss?
There is hope, there are steps you can take to deal with loss and to come out the other side.
Here are 5 healthy ways to deal with loss.
1. Acknowledge it. Acknowledge and be honest when dealing with loss. It is ok to admit that you are angry, sad, or frustrated. Sometimes this means saying out loud “I am really angry!” Maybe this means you create space and time to process the hurt and pain.
2. Talk about it. Find a trusted friend that you can talk to about your loss. This doesn’t mean you have to tell everyone. Find someone close that you trust and allow yourself to open up to them. Let them know how hard you find talking about it to be, but that you need them to listen. Maybe you just need a shoulder to cry on. Not everyone is going to understand what you are going through, but a good friend can provide comfort and understanding.
3. Give yourself time. When going through loss, people are going to want to check up on you. Let them know if you’re not ready to talk yet, or are still processing. Or if you want to hang out but not talk about the loss. You are valuable and your feelings are valid. If you need space, it is ok to put up boundaries. For example, you can say, “I need time to process but I will talk about more when I’m ready.”
4. Write it down. Many people find it hard to verbalize their feelings while in a season of loss. One way to do that would be to write out your feelings and thoughts. There are many journals available, some of them can guide you and others are completely blank, just ready for you to fill up. When the feelings of sadness, anger, or hurt arise, write it down in your journal.
5. Give yourself grace. Be kind to yourself when grieving your loss. Remember that you are not called to be perfect in the midst of grieving. You are not expected to get over things overnight. Realize that the loss you experienced hit you deep and it is going to take time to work thought. Do self-care things like exercising, hanging out with friends, getting good sleep, or any other self-care I may have not mentioned.
In the midst of loss, there may be something new coming. Maybe it won’t be the same as it used to be, but perhaps it could mean an opportunity for new growth, just like weeding your garden allows for new growth.
Just recently I found myself in a stage of grief. I was in a stage of anger and asking the question “why?” I tried to make sense of a situation that left me feeling at a dead end. I tried to bring understanding to the situation, and I even tried to fix it. It seemed the more I moved towards grieving my loss, the angrier I became. And, at times, I even tried to pretend it didn’t bother me.
Sounds familiar, right? Yup, I was in the denial stage of grief. During this time, I learned that it wasn’t wrong to yearn for this thing I lost. I also found myself coming to a place of radical acceptance. Radical acceptance doesn’t mean approval, it means totally accepting that we can’t change the facts – or in this case, loss – if we don’t like them.
I found that it truly is hard to move forward when dealing with loss. Although it took time, I did get to a place that only my Heavenly Father could bring me to. First, I had to travel the road of grief and allow myself to feel some tough emotions. These feelings lead me to the other side where I began to experience new growth.
Are you allowing for new growth to take root in the midst of grieving your loss? If not, it may be time to revisit these 5 ways.