Growing up I always understood that if I lost something, most of the time I had a chance of finding it again. There were somethings that were lost to me and never found again – but I was always taught to get up, get on with it, get over it. I had no idea that following an experience of loss required time, healing, and the opportunity to process the emotions that went with it.
As a child growing up, I had an absent birth father. He sent birthday and Christmas cards but other than that I was not a priority. This was probably my first experience of loss – but I lived with it silently. We didn’t talk about it, didn’t explore my feelings, we certainly didn’t unpack how I was interpreting the behaviour of my father.
If any of the adults in my life had the awareness or skill to ask – they would have discovered I was a child who had created a narrative in my head that I was not good enough, I was not worth fighting for because I was not worthy. I believed that I was the reason the relationship didn’t exist, that somehow along the way I had done something wrong! This message would be the dominant thought pattern throughout my childhood, adolescence and well into my 40s.
Then I spent time understanding these beliefs and got real with myself and worked on shifting them slowly towards new beliefs that I could actually believe about myself and the truth of the circumstances. Because the truth is closer to, I was a child, my birth father was an adult and it was his responsibility to be the parent and find ways to remain connected to me. The circumstances were outside of my control and I don’t have to live with the shame, blame and guilt of that. Boom! Time to reclaim me amongst the pain and angst.
So, what is the definition of loss? It’s:
- The act or fact of being unable to keep or maintain something or someone
- The harm resulting from losing or being separated from someone or something
- The fact or process of losing something or someone.
In our everyday lives that can mean a variety of very different things. Traditionally, we experience loss when our pet dies, when our grandparents or family members die and perhaps when someone we know dies. But loss is about so much more than death and dying.
It is about the friendships we no longer have, the dream or goal we did not achieve, the miscarriage we experienced, the job we did not get, the child we thought we would have but couldn’t, the relationship we thought was forever, but ended in break up or divorce, it is about the rites of passage we were supposed to experience that were disrupted, cancelled or erased because of a world-wide pandemic. The list goes on because loss is personal. It is unique and the only person who can define the loss you feel is you!
Coupled with this is the fact that we simply don’t talk about loss in our everyday lives the way we need to.
Why? Because it is awkward, painful, uncomfortable and a lot of the time we actually have no idea what’s really going on.
I’ve coached a lot of women; our relationship usually begins with a Connection Call and each and every time they begin in a very similar way.
‘I just don’t feel like myself. I want things to be different, but I feel stuck. Everything I do is about other people. I just don’t know who I am anymore.”
A lot of my clients come to me because their world seems to have slipped slightly off its axis. Things don’t seem as shiny as they once were. But they’re not entirely sure why.
Inevitably a theme reveals itself. The theme of loss.
Transformation starts with awareness that what they’re feeling, experiencing, or stuck in is linked to a loss they have experienced. It may be a recent loss; it may be a loss from the past that has recently been ruptured or exposed to the air somehow. The result is pain and discomfort, but by reaching in for help – we can find ways to grieve, heal, self-soothe, and repair the wounds.
So, let’s get practical because awareness is useful, but support and strategy are powerful.
- Get to the core of your feelings
Get curious with yourself, be gentle with yourself and tune in to what is really going on.
You can start by asking yourself “What am I feeling” – choose one feeling. Let’s say anger. Then list the 3 emotions that lie beneath the umbrella emotion.
- Ask yourself where are these feelings coming from?
The easiest way to assess this is to ask are they coming from my past, my present or is this a future me feeling?
The answer to this question is a signpost which will send you in the right direction to uncover what is really going on for you. It allows you to get specific, see the problem for what it is and then work towards finding a solution that works for you.
- Ask yourself what do I need right now to help me find peace?
Asking yourself, ‘What do I need right now?’ allows you to tune in to the options and potential solution that will help you grieve, heal, self-soothe, and repair the wounds and ultimately find a sense of inner peace.
An important note here is to check that the options you explore are helpful and not harmful. We can all indulge in activities, behaviours and substances that feel good in the short term but longer term they can become harmful. Be honest with yourself.
Most often the answer to this question is to simply feel it through, let it out, forgive it away, process the feeling until the heat is gone from it. We’re often scared that by facing our feelings we will somehow turn to dust on the other side. We don’t. The release is often a powerful aspect of our healing and helps us become unstuck.
Finally, finding ways to bring purposeful self-care into your life can be the soothing and healing we need to find peace. Purposeful self-care is simply doing the things that make you a better person.
Each human walks this earth with a glorious light and within. The human experience means we will all experience some kind of loss across our lifetime. An equal part of the human experience is being aware of that light, nurturing the glow and controlling the dimmer switch when life feels like it is creating darkness.
Remember that sharing our imperfect stories creates connection and is needed to rally against the forces that try to dim our light and that you never have to do that alone.
Want to understand more about the impact loss is having on your life and how to find forward momentum? Reach in and we can chat.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Coach, Speaker & Training Facilitator
Creator of the Human Experience Coaching Model
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.collectivewisdomcoaching.com
‘Rising Women of Spirit’ Finalist 2019 Lifeline Women of Spirit Awards
‘Brave Rising Star’ Winner 2019 Altitude Awards
‘Purpose Driven Entrepreneur’ Finalist 2019 Altitude Awards
‘Let’s Rethink Our Approach to Grief‘ TEDx Speaker 2017