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Understand Loss


To understand about and how to heal from a loss.

Kinds of Loss (Zamore & Leutenberg, p. 10)

Loss refers to no longer having somebody or something. Here are some examples of loss:

  • Addiction
  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Failed business venture
  • Faith
  • Financial security
  • Home
  • Independence
  • Mental ability
  • Pet
  • Physical health
  • Plans, hopes, and dreams
  • Relationships
  • Role in life
  • Sense of safety/security
  • Status
  • Treasured possessions

Definitions (Zamore & Leutenberg, p. 10)

There are three terms commonly associated with loss: bereavement, grief, and mourning. Bereavement refers to experiencing the loss of someone through death. Grief is the reaction to bereavement and can be thought of as a universal response to any loss. Mourning refers to the expression of grief in culturally specific ways.

Healing from a Loss (Zamore & Leutenberg, p. 15)

Consider the following four tasks related to the work of grieving. Personal growth and healing are built on these tasks:

  1. Healing from a LossAccepting the loss is the starting point for the work of grieving and refers not only to intellectual acceptance but also to emotional recognition. Intellectual acceptance occurs as you emerge from the initial shock that you have experienced a loss. Full emotional acceptance may take longer and occurs as the other tasks are being accomplished.
  2. Feeling the feelings is counter-intuitive for most people. Most people would rather deny feelings, push them aside, distract themselves, and/or “stuff” them instead of experiencing the full weight of any uncomfortable emotions. Emotions can be expressed in a lot of different ways, and you’ll learn more about how to express your emotions in future lessons.
  3. Adjusting has to do with learning to live without the physical presence of a loved one. It can be difficult to reorganize your life to account for that person no longer being there.
  4. Moving forward is when you’re able to adjust in a way that allows for personal growth and for a “new normal” to develop. Moving forward doesn’t imply forgetting; rather, it allows you to be grateful for what you do have and to experience hope for the future.

Healing from a Loss Exercise

Instructions: Reflect on the above tasks related to healing from a loss. Where are you at with each task? Have you begun taking steps toward accepting the loss, experiencing your feelings, adjusting, and moving forward? Rank the tasks in order of difficulty and reflect on why certain tasks are particularly difficult for you.

__________ refers to experiencing the loss of someone through death.

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