When you experience loss, but it’s not a death
Recently all of the Aspire Counseling therapists were sitting in a circle talking about our “ideal” clients. One of our therapists, Ben, shared that he works well with clients who have experienced loss. He really caught our attention when he explained that not only does he enjoy helping people move forward after the death of a loved one, but he also helps those who have experienced loss in other ways including divorce, a job or “loss of a dream.” Wow. How powerful. This started a discussion about how devastating it can be to lose any important part of your life.
Loss doesn’t always refer to death. Sometimes there’s a hole in your life or something you value is suddenly absent and yet, nobody has died. You’ve not attended any funerals. Nobody has made a casserole. But something is different. There’s been a noticeable change that you have to find a way to accept and adjust to. It hurts and you may move back and forth between feeling sad, angry, betrayed and maybe even positive emotions such as relieved or excited in some situations. Consider the following examples.
After a divorce, a man not only loses his wife, but moves out of the house he had chosen and now only sees his children half of the time. Additionally, he no longer socializes with some of the “couple” friends he used to spent time with and even changes churches to avoid awkward encounters. This is loss and grief will follow.
A non-tenured university professor is laid off due to less funding in the budget for her department. She starts a nation wide search for a new job knowing that she’ll have to move away from the home and city she loves to find another well paying position in her field. Her teenage children become angry at the idea of having to move out of state. This is loss and grief will be part of the process of moving forward.
A family learns that the youngest child in the family has autism. Their time is now spent reading articles like this one and learning about terms like Applied Behavior Analysis, Early Intervention and Individualized Education Plans. The parents realize that their child’s future will most likely look different than they had expected and will likely need more help to reach many of the milestones they’ve been looking forward to. They are grieving the loss of the future they envisioned for their child.
A young adult has always been close to her sister, but this year her sister got married and moved out of state. They talk on the phone, but it’s not the same. They are in different phases of life now and her sister always seems busy. When they do talk, her sister’s life is now taken over by worries about the house and plans to have a baby. It feels like they don’t connect anymore. She must grieve the loss of their old relationship to adjust to the new one.
A senior in college finds out he didn’t get into any of the law schools he applied for. He’s spent the past four years of his life working toward law school and isn’t sure where to go next with his life. This is loss and the college student will grieve the loss of a future he had planned.
A young girl’s best friend moves out of the country with her family to do mission work. It’s almost Summer now and the two girls have spent the past three Summer’s together going swimming, playing outside and making up new games. This summer there will be a hole, a loss and she will grieve her friend’s absence.
It’s ok to use the word “loss” to talk about these situations. Loss can be hard, confusing and full of conflicting feels no matter what type of loss you are facing. These feelings are painful at times. It’s easy to invalidate yourself by saying, “It could be worse” or by ignoring the grief altogether. However, like a beach ball you keep trying to push under water, that pain will come back over and over again until you label the experience as loss and move through the grief.
Counseling for Loss
Sometimes you may not feel ready for the loss you are facing. Or perhaps you are afraid that if you let yourself fully experience your sadness and pain, you’ll become overwhelmed. Perhaps you feel stuck and it’s almost like you can’t move through the pain at all. If you want to talk about how counseling may be able to help you on your journey of adjusting to your loss, contact Aspire Counseling today. We are a Columbia, MO based counseling clinic that matches clients with caring, knowledgable therapists who will partner with you as you move through this challenging time. For instance, Ben specializes in helping adults adjust to loss and brings a warm presence into the session helping you feel comfortable experiencing all of these conflicting emotions. Joni specializes in working with children and youth. She’d be happy to help your child adjust through the use of play or help your teen open up about their complex emotions while they visit with her specially trained therapy dog.
Other Posts about Loss, Change & Grief
Before you go, check out these additional posts:
Jessica Tappana, LCSW is the founder, director and a therapist at Aspire Counseling in Columbia, MO. She began Aspire Counseling in May 2017 to provide quality, evidence based mental health services to individuals in the Mid Missouri area looking for healing from trauma, grief, anxiety and overwhelming stress. The practice now has 4 therapists and serves all ages from early childhood through retirement. Aspire Counseling is LGBTQ friendly and welcoming to people from all walks of life. Jessica is proud of the care that is taken at Aspire to match each client with a therapist who is uniquely suited to meet that client’s needs based on personality, training, specialty and experience. If you’re interested in beginning your healing journey, you will find a safe space at Aspire Counseling.