Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about loss, and the power it can have over those that experience it. Not just the all too common sad feelings that come with the grief of losing someone/something, but the potential power of healing through those experiences. Something that remains true through my childless not by choice journey.
The loss of a loved one
This past month has been an extremely difficult time, as I sadly lost my Dad. I can’t put into words the rollercoaster of emotions I’ve felt. The feelings are something I’ve never experienced, something only those that have lost a parent will begin to understand.
When you lose a parent who has been ill for some time, it raises a host of conflicting emotions into the frame. No one wants to see a loved one turn into a shadow of their former self, but it doesn’t make it any easier when they are no longer here.
In adversity, human kind shows their greatest strengths and I’m pleased to say I have seen that through the outpouring of love to my family at this difficult time. When there is loss, there is also love and hope.
The loss of friendship or romantic relationships
Although the pain is not comparable to never being able to see a loved one again, there are huge similarities. Confusion, emptiness and sadness are all common feelings when relationships end, but depending on the situation/circumstances, the feelings of anger, guilt and frustration may come into play.
I don’t think enough is spoken about the ending of friendships, and how you come to terms with those changes. For some friendships that just fizzle out over time, whether it be because of circumstances/changes in life style/location, it is an easier pill to swallow. When they end more abruptly, with perhaps more conflict, a lack of mutual understanding, and a lack of resolution, the feelings can be hard to cope with. The void becomes more difficult to repair, and move on from, even if you try to rationalise the relationship/s.
The loss of a job, or way of life
I have been really fortunate so far in life to have had a career that I have enjoyed. The jobs I’ve had and the company I own are so much more than a means to pay the bills. They are a part of who I am, something I’m very proud of.
If you’re similar to me in anyway, it doesn’t matter whether you lose your job through redundancy, or you struggle to find a lifestyle you love, it can create a sense a loss and confusion.
Like wise, if you have lost your way of life because of illness, I can only imagine how difficult it is to have the mental strength to find a way forwards. Someone who’s managed this head on and continues to amaze everyone, is Henry Fraser. If you’ve not read his story, it’s truly inspiring. I think his book ‘The Little Big Things’ should be on everyone’s reading list.
The loss of a family you thought you’d always have
You may be thinking, how can that be loss if you’ve never had it?
Well, trust me, when you’d always pictured a certain life, one that included having a family of your own, and then it doesn’t happen, the overwhelming feelings are of loss.
Over the years I have continued to put a brave face on my circumstances, honing in on my own coaching skills and trying to have a glass half full outlook on life. Sometimes, it’s harder than others. Not helped when you still have to put up with insensitive questions or statements, (‘do you have children? More of a career girl? ‘You can have mine’, you’d make a great foster Mum’), or a general lack of thought from those around you.
So after a ‘extended wobble’ last year, I came to the realisation that I just need to talk more. Not just to friends, not to family, but to a therapist. It may have taken a 12 month waiting list on the NHS, but I got there and timing is everything.
Sometimes in life you just need to unravel the past in order to fully move forwards. I thought I had done that, but it turns out I need a little more help, and that’s ok.
As a dear friend pointed out just recently post traumatic growth is an underused term, and one I believe we can all learn a great deal from. I agree that, we have to live with, and learn from, adversity, to allow us to experience the positive changes that can occur as the result of the struggle with traumatic events/loss.
I just wanted to end with something that Dad said when I froze my eggs in my late 30’s. “For what’s it’s worth I think you’re doing the right thing, but if it doesn’t work out, there’s so much more to being a woman these days, go find the opportunities!”
I am certainly paving a way to do just that Dad, thank you. x