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Coping with Loss

Updated: May 19, 2021

The Grief Process: When we lose someone or something, it changes our lives in unexpected ways. For some, it can feel as if the world is caving in on them. For others, the pain comes in waves. Some people do not experience this level of pain for a while, and may even accept the loss quite readily. Each of us experiences grief differently.

Perhaps what is the most uncomfortable thing about the grief process is that it is generally unpredictable. We rarely have control over our response to loss, and this can feel unsettling. Just when we feel we have gotten over the loss, something reinforces or adds to it, and we find ourselves overwhelmed. Whatever our individual process may be, it is important to honor it.

The Taboo of Emotional Expression: We live in a society in which we are often encouraged or pressured to suppress our emotions, as if this indicates that we are strong and stable. Yet, emotions are meant to be expressed. Tears, protest, processing the jumbled thoughts that result from chemical reactions to stress, or even regressing are ways that our bodies release the toxins and pent up energies associated with grief. As long as we are not hurting anyone else in the process, such self expression can be liberating.

Upon finding healthy and authentic ways to express our strong emotions, grief can, for some, result in enhanced coping skills in general. People whom are skilled in acknowledging and expressing emotions are less likely to turn to alcohol or drugs to avoid them. They are also more likely to engage in healthy ways of releasing energy or soothing their pain, engaging in physical, mental, relaxing, productive, and creative activities. Often, those whom have experienced and learn to process loss therefore display resilience when faced with similar stress down the road.

Because the grief process can be varied and unpredictable, the key to coping with loss is to build the tolerance to live in the question. Once we master that ability, there is nothing we can't overcome. For, it is living in the question that helps us to maintain a growth mindset, with which every lived experience becomes a lesson to learn, rather than a tragedy that breaks us.


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