Dealing with Loss as an Adult (Part 1)
Mar 15, 2018
As children, expressing sadness and mixed emotions in the face of loss is expected. It's okay to cry on the first day of kindergarten when your parent walks away, and it's okay to be upset for days when your first pet dies. Parents help their children through difficult separations like moving to a new house, attending sleep-away summer camp, and dealing with divorce. But what about as adults? In many cases, these same situations are just as upsetting but we're expected to show greater self-control and handle these powerful feelings of loss on our own and many struggle with the process. Losses that profoundly change your life are especially hard to handle. Fortunately, you're not alone. Thousands of adults every day are dealing with similar emotions and there are known methods for facing your feelings and moving through them to the next stage of your life.
The Many Faces of Loss
In our society, there are things on the "okay to grieve" list and everything else. The list is pretty short, primarily consisting of bad breakups and close family deaths. This is most evidenced in the corporate culture, which traditionally only allows time off for a funeral if the loved one was 'close enough' to you. The truth is many things cause profound feelings of loss, and deaths are only one of them. Sometimes people who move to a new home, even if they do so happily, will find themselves grieving the memories and environment of the property they left behind. Losing your car to a wreck, changing jobs, or your children growing up can all cause deep feelings of loss and it's okay to deal with it the same way you would with 'acceptable' grieving.
Express Your Feelings
Feelings of loss are complicated, and happen in stages. Many people feel hopeless or angry before they reach sadness, and it's important to let yourself run the gambit. Trying to swallow your emotions without experiencing them will only slow down your ability to complete the emotional process and often makes the painful part harder. It can help to talk to someone you trust about how you feel, even if you are missing something nontraditional like an old car that you loved. Sometimes the best thing you can do is reminisce with someone who shared the experiences you're missing, laughing about the old times. This will help you accept the change and look toward the future with a more positive attitude.
If you're dealing with a difficult time in your life, it can help to seek counseling and guidance outside yourself and your internal churning emotions. I invite you to return for the second half of this two-part series on how to handle loss as an adult where we'll cover talk about how to encourage both your body and mind to recover from the feelings of depression and grief from your recent loss. If you would like to talk to someone about your feelings, please contact me. I'm always ready to help.
Category: Depression Counseling