Managing Loss – In These Changing Times
By Rowena J Ronson and Nigel Summerley
RJR: We are all at a loss – one way or another. Even if we take out people we know who have been ill or may have passed over as a result of these times – we have all lost a much treasured spring, and it is likely that we will not experience summer in the way we ‘normally’ do too. We are all struggling, and grieving, in our individual ways. Do you think it would be a good idea to discuss loss and grieving here?
NS: Yes, I do. I think you are right in that everyone has lost something this year – from the child being unable to go and play on the swings in the park, to the elderly person unable to go out at all. Some losses may not leave a mark, but others inevitably will. Some people have lost their lives, and many others feel that they have lost a whole chunk of their lives. All of us may need to discover how to deal with such losses. What is your advice to those who are grieving?
RJR: A really useful way to support ourselves and those around us is to be aware that different emotions will be coming up at different times – for everyone. Some will feel anger, some sadness, some depression, and others apprehension and fear. Some will want to rebel, some will feel resentment, and some might even feel that their life is no longer worth living – that there is no longer any point to it all. Understanding that there is a difference between our emotions and our thoughts encourages a deeper exploration into our own self-awareness. This is a time of transition – and it will pass. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross writes about the stages of grief – and it is a framework that is useful in understanding ourselves and supporting others. Denial, Anger, Depression, Finding Meaning and Acceptance. It is a cycle, and we all are somewhere within it at the moment.
NS: I think it’s useful to look at our griefs in this way – and to realise, as you say, that pretty much all of us are in this cycle of grief somewhere (whether it’s over the cancellation of a long-looked-forward-to holiday or the loss of a loved one). With each of these stages, I guess we need to pay attention very closely to what is happening within us and around us, in order to come out the other side; to be stuck in denial or anger will do little to help. Above all, don’t we need to accept the fragility of our lives? We might prefer it to be otherwise, but that is not in our hands… Yet in that fragility we may find beauty too…
RJR: I would prefer not to see it as fragility. I don’t really want our readers to feel their lives are fragile – more that they are evolving. These are challenging times, and all our emotions are valid. Keep talking, keep sharing, keep reaching out. Our emotions are best expressed rather than suppressed. Speak to family, speak to friends, seek help when you need it. And these times will pass. Stay safe, everyone. xx