“Living with loss” means something is missing from our lives, yet we’re still here and still trying to go on, day by day.
There are many types of loss. This website is primarily concerned with loss through bereavement.
Grief is our internal reaction to loss; mourning is how we express that grief. Grief can touch on many aspects of our lives.
Each of us has a unique experience of grief, because we are each unique individuals, with our own life stories, personalities, family backgrounds, relationships, cultures and religious beliefs. The way we mourn – or express our grief – also differs from one person to the other. On the other hand, there are many common elements in grief. Perhaps some of what follows might sound familiar to you.
What follows bereavement
Grief moves us emotionally – we can be sad, tearful, angry, depressed, heartbroken, anxious, guilty, angry, confused, fearful and much more. Our thoughts may race. We may lack concentration. We may or may not express these feelings to others.
We might find ourselves waking up in the morning and feeling like it hasn’t really happened. He or she isn’t really gone. It can’t be real – can it? It can’t be true – can it? But it is.
Grief often impacts us physically, as we may not be able to sleep or we may not want to wake up; we may not eat or we may eat too much. The stress of grief can precipitate illness or worsen existing conditions.
Living with loss has a practical side. Dealing with funeral arrangements, managing a loved one’s affairs, getting rid of old clothes, returning disability equipment, closing bank accounts. Dealing with digital legacy. Cancelling contracts.
Our life may change considerably as a result of a loved one’s absence. We might need to adjust to living alone, or not having caring responsibilities. We now shop and cook for one. Perhaps we have to do things that our loved one used to do for us. We might be very lonely. We may fear for our future.
Losing a loved one can also alter our financial situation. We might have less money coming in, or we might have received an unexpected amount of money that we now need to decide what to do with.
Grief can be isolating. It may feel that nobody understands what we are going through. Everybody else’s life seems to be going on just as it was, but our life is forever changed. Yet we may discover – perhaps even from this website or one of the links – that others are also struggling, perhaps not in exactly the same way, but other people struggle with grief – and they survive. And we can too.
Bereavement can result in family conflicts. Tragedy can draw us together, but different styles of grieving and different personalities can drive us apart.
And all of this is happening whilst we are perhaps in a state of shock, of deep sadness, of the raw agony of grief.
And there can be more.
If a death was sudden or violent, through suicide, an accident or the result of a crime, we may face even more. There may be a post-mortem and an inquest, perhaps even a court case. There may be media attention and we may find that our private grief is of public interest.
Grief can result in spiritual confusion for those who have been believers. We might not feel like we are “supposed” to be grieving, and that our faith should be strong enough to carry us through. We might question why God allowed what happened, or we might be angry with him. We might not be sure he is there at all. We might feel guilty feeling the way we feel, however that is.
Some of us might be conflicted about our loved one. Perhaps our relationship was difficult or their life was troubled.
Our experience of living with loss can also include feelings of relief, perhaps that a loved one’s suffering is over. We might have the comfort that comes from believing that death is merely a transition from this life to the next. Having faith that our loved one is in a better place may give us solace, but then again, they’re still not here with us, are they?
The death of a loved one leaves unanswered questions, unfulfilled hopes, unfinished conversations.
Living with loss…
Living with loss is remembering. It’s memories that come to us unbidden just as much as it’s the little things we do that remind us of the one we’ve lost. It’s the way we want to say their name and make sure they’re not forgotten.
Grief does something peculiar with time. It feels like yesterday when our loved one died, but somehow it also feels like a lifetime ago. It is a lifetime – their lifetime.
Grief is untidy. It spreads out like a haze, infiltrating our dreams, shadowing our waking thoughts. Grief isn’t something we can put into tidy packages. We don’t travel through it by neat, pre-defined stages.
And as a wise man wrote, grief is the price we pay for love.
READ MORE – follow links here
⊕ Blogs posts and articles
This link takes you to avalleyjournal.co.uk. Articles are mostly by Abi, but also some other sources. This blog is frequently updated, usually every week or so. You can also subscribe to receive articles by email.
⊕ Subject index
Topical list of grief-related articles
⊕ A Valley Journal book
What it’s about and where to buy
⊕ Links for further support
This is a useful list of other organisations and sources of support for the bereaved.