You probably have heard the phrase, "Loss is a part of life." This is very true, if you live long enough you will experience the loss of someone significant. While this is a very normal and expected part of life, it can also be very challenging and difficult to overcome your feelings of loneliness and sadness. Grief can be complicated, as it is not limited to feelings of sadness. Grief can also encompass feelings of guilt, anger, regret and many more feelings that can sometimes be overwhelming for someone experiencing all of these emotions.
Everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. Some people grieve for a period of time and resume normal activities, with occasional moments of sadness. While others may grieve for years only finding temporary relief. Going to a therapist is not required, but can help you understand your feelings and guide you through the process. However, if you are feeling paralyzed, overwhelmed, disoriented or unable to carry out daily functions, it may be necessary for you to speak to someone that specializes in grief recovery.
Kubler-Ross 5 Stages of Grief
Feelings of grief are not limited to the loss of a loved one. There are many different losses in life that can engender grief reactions. These losses are not due to death, but can represent the loss of relationships, loss of status, loss of opportunities, and loss of purpose just to name a few. Losses of this nature are referred to as symbolic loss. For example, when someone retires or loses their employment this can result in an individual feeling a loss of identity, since they are no longer performing in that capacity anymore. Someone who goes through the process of divorce might experience a loss of status as they are now viewed as a single individual, which can also impact financial stability. An individual that receives the news from the doctor that they must start dialysis might experience a loss of independence of their kidney functioning. At this point, I believe you understand the concept. The loss that people feel as a result of going through these experiences is similar to what people go through when they lose someone that is close to them. Feelings of anger, sadness, and guilt that are experienced in reaction to loss through death are also experienced in reaction to a symbolic loss. However, symbolic loss is not always recognized as a loss does not get nearly the same level of recognition and support as loss due to death. Because of this symbolic loss is not always recognized as a loss and people may not realize they need to take time to grieve and deal with their feelings of loss.
Anticipatory grief is very common, but rarely talked about. This is a form of grief that occurs in anticipation of a future loss. People normally associate this with the possibility of losing a loved one from a terminal illness. However, just like with symbolic loss, anticipatory grief can be brought on by the impending possibility of a change of life circumstance, such as the possibility of losing a job. The feelings of sadness or anger that are engendered during normal grief are often expressed during the anticipation of a loss. This can facilitate the sharing of feelings that help promote intimacy, which can be helpful in preparing for a future loss.