How to Navigate Through Loss
As we grow older, we experience loss in many forms — whether this looks like the death of a partner or friend, or the loss of your former life when you leave your career to retire. Dealing with loss can be difficult. Here are some tips that may help you learn how to manage it.
Recognizing different types of losses
Loss of a partner
The death of a partner spouse can rock your world and can be one of the most difficult types of loss to experience. Your feelings of guilt and sorrow might include anger at your partner for dying or guilt for being the one who is left alive. There also may be issues if your partner or spouse was the primary wage earner. Here are three financial decisions to make after the loss of a primary wage earner.
Loss of a pet
Losing a pet can be very hard to deal especially if you live alone. Your house might seem unnaturally silent without your dog barking at the window or your cat jumping from surface to surface. The death of a pet might also require adjusting your self-identity if you are no longer a pet owner.
Loss of career
Many people don’t understand the grief that often accompanies the loss of a career. Retiring is difficult because when you retire, you aren’t just losing your paycheck. You’re also losing the relationships brought about by your job, your routine and a significant part of your purpose and identity.
Loss of home
Maybe you’ve had to downsize and move into a smaller house, a retirement community or an assisted living home. There are a lot of emotions that come along with this transition. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling sad or upset about the move or for feeling grief over any type of loss.
How to manage grief
No matter what kind of loss you’ve experienced, you’re likely experiencing feelings of grief. Signs of grief include lack of energy, loss of or sadness, anxiety and more.
Below are a few tips that will help you manage your grief for any kind of loss you’re encountering.
Be patient with yourself
How long does it take to get over grief? There’s no across-the-board right answer to that question. Everyone grieves differently. How you feel is okay — and however long it takes your grief to become more manageable is okay, too.
Give yourself time to feel and time to heal from your loss. Incorporating self-care into your life is a good way to support your physical, mental and emotional health. Practices like regular exercise or scheduled video calls with family and friends can help you work through feelings of grief over time.
Find a support system
Surrounding yourself with people who love you is one of the best ways to push back against feelings of overwhelming grief.
If you get out and about, there are still ways you can connect with people from the comfort of your own home. Use online computer games, group video chats or old-fashioned snail mail pen pals to get the support you need.
You can also access more structured support if that’s what you need. Join a support group for the bereaved; hospitals, volunteer groups and churches often have options available. Consider working with a professional counselor or therapist who can help you walk through your loss.
Understand grieving vs. depression
For some people, there may be a point where their grief turns into depression. It’s important to understand the difference between grief and depression so you can know if this is happening to you.
Grief and major depressive disorder have common symptoms, including:
The primary difference is that grief decreases over time. It returns in waves that are triggered by reminders of the loss. Depression is more consistent and prevalent.
Keep an open dialogue with your support system about how you’re feeling. If needed, seek help from a professional.
Dealing with loss
Loss is a part of life. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to deal with. Being patient with yourself, leaning on your support system and knowing the difference between grieving and depression can help you navigate grief and loss as best as possible.
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