Posted by fxckfeelings on January 5, 2016Share This Post
When you lose someone you really care about, the despair can also cause you to lose your confidence; you sometimes feel you should be stronger, or should have cared less, or that you now lack the independence to recover. In reality, we have as much control over how we feel about or experience loss as we do over our loved ones. Some people wind up with much more pain than others, and much more than they deserve. What you can always do, however, is find meaning and value in the relationships you’ve cared about, and, in doing so, find reasons to believe in yourself and carry on.
In the past three years I have lost my father, my husband, my son, and had a bad breakup. I also am responsible for the care of my handicapped mother. The loss of my son and the breakup have both happened in the last three months. I feel overwhelmed and cannot pull myself out of it. It’s too much to go through all at once, and I can’t see any relief in sight. My goal is just to survive the excruciating period of my life.
A common thread to loss is having close relationships to begin with; loss is the other side of love, so if you didn’t love people in the first place, losing them wouldn’t be meaningful or hurt so much. In other words, great loss only comes from great gains.
So, while the pain of loss can make you feel overwhelmed and helpless, it can also remind you of what made someone special and why knowing them made you richer. That’s why eulogies focus on the richness of relationships with people who are gone and how the impact of those relationships will never stop.
As a matter of fact, eulogies are a good model for what to do with the negative thoughts that pain always causes. Instead of dwelling on what you’re missing and what you should have done to feel less helpless, think about what you valued most about the relationship and will try to take with you. Don’t focus on controlling the pain of grief; think about what to take from a loss in spite of your grief.
If you can’t think positively about what and whom you’re missing, you may be depressed; any overwhelming experience can trigger depression, which, once begun, will fill your mind with negative thoughts, which will make positive thoughts nearly impossible.
Instead of treasuring what you loved about someone, you’ll find fault with what you didn’t say or do and wonder whether you have anything left to give. You’ll find endless reasons to judge yourself an empty failure.
If that’s the case, don’t accept your negative thoughts as truth. Instead, get help, recognize what’s happening to your brain, and fight back. A good therapist can push you to recognize your strengths and value your losses. You may also benefit from other treatments, including exercise and medication.
You’ve been targeted by a perfect storm of bad luck and loss, but you can weather it by remembering what your relationships meant to you and being proud of what you did with them. You can hold onto the memories while letting go of the pain.
“I feel like I’ve lost everything and will never feel good again. I know, however, that I’m hurting because relationships have mattered deeply and I’ve had some good ones.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname