Coping is one of the most difficult things we do and yet we do it every moment of every day. I have had the challenge of coping with major events many times in my life. Because of that, I was asked to write this article in hopes it might help someone deal with their own difficulties.
There are many reasons and needs for coping and I will attempt to explore a bit of this, but I will make one statement before moving on.
In your struggle against life, you now have a 100% success rate!! Think about that. All the things which have been thrown at you, you have overcome. It isn’t always easy, nor is it always pretty, but you have done it. GO YOU!
In this entry, I am going to address coping with loss. In recent months, I have had three friends lose someone very close to them. Dealing with those losses have taken their toll, as loss always will. I have heard others tell them that they will be ok because they are strong. Yes, they are. There is no doubt about that, but there is more to being “ok” than having strength.
When someone loses a parent, other family member or partner, they will go through a distinct process.
There are five stages of grief.
None of these five stages follow a set routine, in that they do not represent the same in each person, but they do show themselves.
Denial helps us to survive that initial shock. We may deny the loss happened at all. We may deny the reason or we may deny that it is devastating for us. There is always some manner of denial, but it is normal and, in ways, it is necessary. The denial period helps us to adjust, as I said, to the initial shock, but then helps us to wrap our mind around what must be done and how our life must change. In some ways, denial is what allows us to move on. We deny that this loss will overcome us.
Anger is a strong contributor to coping. It allows us to expend energies and emotions instead of allowing them to fester within us. We feel anger at the loss itself. We feel anger at whatever reason for that loss and we feel anger at having to deal with it. We feel anger for reasons we simply cannot articulate, but it all assists in our coming to terms.
Bargaining is human nature. It can help us to find balance. In some cases, we make a bargain with whatever higher power in which we believe-‘make him/her better and I will devote my life to good’, or ‘don’t let them suffer and I will change my life’. or ‘If you will help me feel better and get over this, I will do good things’. Other times, the bargaining is not even a conscious thing, but it is always there. The bargaining chips number as many as there are humans on this planet. We all have our own needs and thoughts about this area and our ‘bargains’ are as unique as we are.
Depression is when the emptiness finally presents itself. We tend to be stunned by the sudden quiet once things go back to “normal”. When we have lost someone close to us, there is the inevitable commotion as friends and family hover and help and offer their love and support. Those are wonderful things, but eventually, those people have to get back to their own lives which leaves us with our life, which is no longer ‘normal’. Our normal changes drastically and we can’t always cope with that as suddenly as it is upon us-thus the depression. This is completely normal to feel, but we must also remember that if the depression begins to overwhelm us and cause our daily life to suffer, it is time to talk with someone. Just talking with someone can help us to see our new normal. Talking with someone can allow us to learn a new way of life.
Finally, there is acceptance. This means we come to terms with our loss in our own way. We find what works for us in that it allows us to move on with life. It does not necessarily mean that we are “OK”, because that takes time, but it does mean we are better able to see that our life has changed and we will adapt as needed. This, too, is normal.
Many times, the person left behind can feel guilt at BEING left behind. The survivor can feel they should have-could have-said, thought or done something differently. All of this is normal human behavior in our efforts to come to terms and adapt.
Many times, the person left behind feels guilt at moving on-at living their life again. It will take time, but you will come to realize you cannot put your life on hold because of your loss. The person you lost would never want you to sell yourself short or cheat yourself out of what life offers.
Losing someone is devastating, make no mistake. It is not something you can get over quickly. It will take time-the amount differs with each person and each situation-but you can move on. You can find your way and you can have a good life.
Give yourself the time you need. Never be afraid to talk about your loss. Those who care for you will lend an ear and a shoulder. And never be afraid to search out guidance in your journey back from your loss. Sometimes all it might take is seeing another perspective to help you along that journey.