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Grief & Transition- Loss as a Coping Skill

                  Death.  Trauma.  Being fired from work.  End of a relationship.  Each are life experiences that we will all inevitably experience and they have a commonality in them - loss.  Societal norms, cultural traditions, and even what we see in television and movies dictate what we have historically been taught around how to handle loss.  If you reflect on the varieties of ways that people have coped with loss in their lives, the possibilities are endless.  What doesn’t get discussed as often is that there is no “right way" to grieve and experience the transition of loss.  As a supporter of the grieving, the natural reaction for most is to try and provide comfort in the form of an action or give advice on how to process through the experience.  What might be hard to realize is that these actions are actually to soothe ourselves and our discomfort of seeing those going through the loss.  Unfortunately, the implication is that the grieving are to eventually respond with having conquered the loss and be “normal” and happy again, all to make the supporter feel resolved.  In trying to provide comfort to the grieving, we are helping to alleviate our experience of discomfort so that we are able to move on.  This isn’t wrong; it’s human nature.

                  Consider an alternative - each person has their own experience of how to work through a difficult transition of loss, in their own time and their own way.  For those who continue to struggle past the actions of comfort provided by those around them, continuing to grieve and struggle until they find their way is completely healthy and may be exactly what they need.  One of the most common misconceptions about therapy is that you will be “fixed” or happy as a result.  Ultimately, therapy is a way to help process individual experiences in a way that is effective and unique to each person.  By focusing on trying to make something better, we may actually be maintaining the issue.  Sometimes, continuing to struggle is necessary and part of the healing process.   Learning how to accept loss and the difficulties that come with it may help healing come about.  A hard dynamic in grief is learning to go through similar memories, experiences, and locations in a new way, to create new memories with those who are currently in your life.  Embrace the loss as you continue to learn what it’s like to have these differences in your life. 

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