Loss and grief is not just about a death, a tragic accident, or an illness. Loss and grief affect's us all much more than we are aware. In my opinion, if this factual information were to be better understood within society, significant reductions within physical and mental health-related issues would be achieved.
Imagine throwing a stone into water, you'll be aware that it will then create ongoing ripple effects right?
From that one simple action, as the stone strikes the surface of the water creating a sudden pressure onto that initial area which then sees the surrounding water push aside. This action continues to repeat and therefore various ongoing ripples are formed.
This same rippling effect relates to our own life experiences.
Imagine that the stone thrown into the water is, (known within psychology) as our primary loss. The ripples that form from this initial impact are our secondary loss.
Whatever your primary loss may be, there will come multiple, conscious and unconscious, secondary losses attached to this one life event.
The combination of these primary and secondary losses can potentially have dramatic implications upon ones life. Due to the lack of information being provided for society to acknowledge and understand, the extent of such secondary loss involved regularly goes unidentified, and therefore, unresolved and untreated. Thus, resulting in far too many individuals left struggling to cope within their lives following that of their primary loss.
Primary Loss: An event in life that was an initial loss. For example, the death of a loved one, loss of employment, divorce, health, home.
Secondary Loss: All other losses caused by the consequences of that of the initial primary loss. (The ripple effect.)
Each loss will bring grief, the extent varying widely between individuals. There will be a greater amount of secondary loss to any one primary loss, neither being of any less importance, intensity, or difficulty.
I’m sure that the majority of you will agree that the year 2020 will go down in history as 'The year the world ran out of toilet roll'. Worldwide, there will not be one single person who has not been affected by coronavirus. However, worldwide we stand connected. Our primary loss was due to that of the same reason, as well as the wide range of secondary loss experienced.
Primary Loss: Consequences from the Coronavirus pandemic 2020.
Secondary Loss: Life, control, socialization, fulfilment, responsibility, relationships, physical and mental health, finances, security, home, community, plans, routine, roles, positivity, energy, emotions, coping skills, patience, mindfulness, freedom, respect, success, empathy, self-awareness/esteem/confidence/worth/care, opportunities, celebrations, travel, gratitude, affection, attention, kindness, appreciation, love, happiness, interest, escape (for various personal reasons including abuse), safety, playfulness, inspiration, joy, satisfaction, trust, memory, consideration, behaviours, communication, sympathy, resilience, amusement, support, enthusiasm, excitement, forgiveness, goodwill, importance, optimism, encouragement, relief, momentum, unity, spontaneity, commitment, calmness, acceptance, adventure, balance, certainty, determination, focus, guidance, innovative, wisdom, manners, time, concentration... And so much more.
Shock/Denial - This isn't true - it cannot be happening. What if...
Anger - How has this happened? Who is at blame here? How dare they.
Bargaining - There must be something I can do to change this situation? Maybe, if I just...
Depression - I won't ever get over this. I'm not worthy of being loved. Life is just too hard, so what is the point.
Acceptance - This has happened. I need to work with what I have now and adapt to these changes. Things can change for me, become better, but only if I try.
So now understanding the true extent and implications that just one primary loss in life creates, isn't it OK to grieve? To deny what has happened, to feel angry about what the situation has created and the various implications within? To experience bargaining, a desire to undo all the negative thoughts, feelings, and outcomes being difficult to accept. To feel depressed for all these same reasons and more. To then accept what has happened, better able to face the realities of our life as it is now, with necessary adaptions, not as it was before.
Take some time to explore your own primary and secondary losses.
Your primary loss may be a: Death, divorce, relationship breakdown, trauma, miscarriage, fertility issues, health, employment. The list is endless.
Your secondary losses may involve: Emotional stress, work-related stress, anxiety, depression, phobias, loneliness, relationship/family issues, avoidance, trauma, behaviour problems, mental/physical health, crisis, anger/violence, overwhelming sadness/emotions, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, neglect, eating disorders, personality disorders, paranoia, insomnia, social withdrawal... As well as those already shown above and more.
Repeat this process for each of your primary losses. This will help you to understand just how much emotional drainage and difficulties you have been carrying around with you, for however long.
My hope now is that you will read this, identify, understand and accept just how much shit that you are in fact dealing with. Then, to give yourself some appreciation. By acknowledging our losses in life, we can then choose to start replacing what is missing.
Thank you for reading.
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