The Complex Facets of Our Losses

I have been blessed to have so many opportunities in my life to examine and reflect upon loss.  I read about it, I hear about it from my clients and then I experience it myself.  Last year my mother was run over and died instantly, so I got to closely examine loss.


It's such a little word though – 'loss' – but with so many layers and complexities and clearly with such huge impacts.  What I notice happening for people is that an interpretation of loss, or a meaning given of loss, is married together with an event – that moment when I found out my mother died, that moment when your boss says to you 'I'm sorry, but we need to let you go', that moment when your partner packs their things and leaves, or that precise moment when your loved one takes his/her last breath.  So we, in our minds, say that this is the moment of loss.  Then this becomes the pivotal moment that everything is related to.  So let me give you an example: a lady (daughter) rang up and asked me to see her mother who was grieving the loss of her husband.  They had been married for 56 years.  Her daughter understandably was concerned for her mother.  She says to me "it was last year that he died and still mum is grieving".  So firstly, of course, there is the issue of a time line for grief (this is something we can address in another blog).  But, secondly, there are these assessments, interpretations and judgments all hanging on this date when the husband died.  This is the loss date. 


For all of you out there who have grieved however, you know that this loss date is only one of many points of reference.  So each morning after that day you wake up and you remember again 'oh, that's right, he died' and so you re-experience loss again.  Loss is not just one event, it's a series of thoughts (words and pictures) too.  You might forget for a moment that he's gone and then you remember in your mind that he has and you feel that loss.  Little things come along each day and you re-experience the loss.  Maybe that loss experience might feel more real three months down the track, rather than on the day/date that the loss event happened.


So loss is an event, and loss is a series of thoughts too.  This has many implications for grief in that your reactions to the loss (grief) might get stronger or more noticeable at different points.  Anniversaries or special dates of course often prompt new waves of grief.  So try not to forget, especially when you are considering someone else's loss and grief experiences, that the event itself is just one date and not to measure or assess someone's grief from that point necessarily.


Now back to the mother I visited and the next complexity of loss.  So, yes, she did lose her husband – he died.  And she was grieving this loss … but then as we talked and I listened it was clear that so many other losses were occurring, as both thoughts/concepts and events.  For example, she lost her home, her community, her friends, her lifestyle, her independence, her sense of hope about life, her sense of identity as a wife, her sense of confidence and so on and so forth.  So the second very important point about loss is that one loss never stands alone.


When you experience a loss, like a death of a loved one, it never stands alone – there will always be other subtle losses that go hand in hand with it.  What we need to do is learn to be aware of these other layers of losses – recognise them, acknowledge them, and notice their impact too (grief).  It may be down the track, after some time has passed, after the death of a loved one, that you might experience a loss of another kind – like the loss of your sense of self as a wife, daughter or friend.  You might experience a type of loss in your sense of trust in the world.


So if you are sitting there reading this blog and wondering why I am not feeling so good – maybe someone close to you died, but you really thought you'd be 'over it' by now (what ever that means?) – have a look and examine yourself.  More than likely there will be some other facets of loss within you that are not being recognised.


Love and light to you all. 






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