We often associate grief and loss with sickness and death. However, those aren’t the only times we can feel the pang of grief. Losing your job, your house, a friendship, or romantic relationship can all trigger feelings of profound sadness and despair. In their book Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner, J. William Worden outlines three steps to adapt when suffering a loss.
Accept the loss
The five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) apply to all losses. The University of Washington encourages those dealing with loss to be aware of these stages and how you uniquely experience them. Doing so can increase self-understanding and compassion and help you better understand and prioritize your needs. As you move through the stages towards acceptance, don’t feel shame. Instead, embrace the journey and allow yourself to experience the normal range of emotions. This is where healing will happen.
Process the pain
Grief and loss hurt. In order to find peace and healing, you need to identify the pain and call it what it is. Instead of pretending like pain just disappears, acknowledge that the loss is painful and work to understand how it affects you, your life, and your emotional health. This allows you to process and understand the pain and lift the weight of it off your shoulders over time.
Adjust and live effectively
Loss can leave a lasting impact on our external life, internal life, and spiritual life. Learning to come to terms with taking on new responsibilities and roles is part of finding a place to remember the loss without it getting in the way of your life.
These steps take time, and grief can come in all shapes and sizes. At Valley Oaks Health, we’re here to provide you with the support you need to live a happy life after loss.