Loss leads to grief

Loss leads to grief, grief leads to the … sorry, wrong blog.

This is by no means a compete guide to loss and grief.

Ok, loss is something that everyone experiences. Whenever something that we feel a connection to is gone, we experience a loss. Loss can be as simple as misplacing your car keys, to being consuming like the death of a loved one, ambiguous like the loss of a bet where you were counting on that win, or complicated like the death of a sick relative.

The common link is that something has gone that you had an emotional tie to. Without that emotional tie, you do not feel loss. This emotional tie can be quite complex. It can be a sense of belonging, love, hope and so on. The breaking of this tie can create follow on emotions, such as anger, shame/guilt or grief.

Anger is the emotion we often feel when we feel powerless or hopeless. It regains our sense of power and ability to create change around us. When we don’t know how we feel, and we feel lost, we humans feel anger and we can become aggressive towards ourselves and others. That aggression often has damaging aspects of social, psychological or physical aspect. Aggression is not the only solution to anger. There are other ways of expressing your feelings of anger and better ways to regain your power.

Guilt is the emotion we feel when we think we should have acted differently and we feel responsible for the outcome. Often this subjective feeling of responsibility is inflated compared to objective reality. It is that skerric of possible truth that lays us down. We exaggerate any possible truth in our action that can mean we are responsible for the loss we have experienced. To minimise this, take a fresh look at the loss and the actions you feel lead to the loss. Did your actions alone lead to this loss? Or were others involved? Are you sharing the responsibility, or are you taking a god like credit?

Shame is the emotion we feel when we think that others consider we have done the wrong thing. In this instance, we can feel shame if we think others are judging us responsible for the loss we are experiencing. So long as we place an exaggerated emphasis on other people’s possible or actual opinions of us, we are going to feel trapped by shame. To combat this, realise that people are entitled to their opinion, whether true or false. It doesn’t matter what people think about you in this instance – this is a time for you to be more concerned with how you are feeling, not with how other people are feeling.

Guilt and shame can blind us to feeling the emotions we need to feel to deal with the loss. This emotion is grief. Grief comes in several flavours. The most well known is the Kübler-Ross model, commonly known as the “five stages of grief”, also there is the flavour of simple grief and the bitterest flavour is complex grief.

I will spend a blog post on each of these.