By Adunke Olatunji
LOSS of any type, be it a divorce, job termination, the end of a friendship that you held dear, or the death of a loved one can send you reeling into unchartered territory. For some, it means the loss of an identity. You may have found pride in calling yourself a CEO, a partner, a wife and now that this title is removed you don’t know what to do. For others, loss leaves you emotionally gutted with no sense of direction.
Loss is very painful. Even thinking about it can give a knot in your stomach and a lump in your throat. And yet you do desire to shift your energy, mind, and heart towards a different direction. In other words, what can you do to begin to create the life that you want after your devastating loss?
Losing your identity can be a long process over a period of months or years, but can also happen suddenly following a major life event or trauma. …When we lose our identity and sense of self, we are likely to seek our sense of self-worth from others.
You may feel a little bit crazy, or like you can’t control anything anymore. You might start to wonder why you are the way you are, or why you’re doing the things you doing. And the truth is: you don’t really have a solid answer. You’re simply floating: outside of yourself, above the world you were once a part of the way it is.
One of the best ways to start over when your loved one died no matter your age is to connect with people who are going through the same thing. Don’t tackle life alone. Get support from widows who understand what you’re going through, who are starting their lives over
Make it very clear about what you desire. In a time of crisis, which is what loss is, you can feel that you need immediate relief, which can cause you to act erratically or impulsively. If you want stability, then a decision made on a whim may not bring the consequence that you seek, because you are not thinking everything out. If you seek trust, you can’t get this from others if you do not trust yourself. Finding clarity after a loss often takes time because the water is very muddy after the upheaval created by the loss. Don’t expect to know exactly what you want within days or even weeks of your loss.
Be open to all that is unknown. With any loss comes enormous fear, and this fear can cause us to restrict our thoughts and behavior. Some people literally shut down and refuse to listen to anyone. Others are not ready to listen to different opinions or views. When you live with a restricted view, it is like breathing with one lung — you are unable to expand your breath properly.
At some point, opening yourself up is necessary to creating a new path. This doesn’t mean that you have to quit your job. What I am referring to is that once you allow yourself to be open without seeking an immediate answer, you will be able to see things in a different light.
Some find closure through professional counseling and support from friends, some through their faith, and others through immersing themselves in a new venture or activity to give themselves opportunity to reflect. Also it will differ depending on the relationship and how that person died.
While each grief process is unique, the loss of someone with whom you have shared a deep emotional and supportive relationship usually causes the most intense grief reaction. Someone who has held you up emotionally when you were in crisis, helped shape your sense of self, and/or encouraged you to reach for your dreams is physically removed from your life forever. So it makes sense that in the acute phase of grief, you may feel as though you have lost your sense of self or feel unsure of your life purpose.
Humans are innately motivated to search for meaning in living. However, if you are overwhelmed by sadness as you struggle to accept the reality of a loved one’s death, it may seem impossible to think about trying to find new meaning in your living without them. But after the first few months following your loved one’s death, if you can spend a short period, on as many days as possible, focused on redefining your goals and reimagining your life purpose, it can offer glimpses of joy—a welcome respite from your sadness. It may help you with acceptance on a deeper level of your loved one’s death. Greater acceptance of the death may help you to reconnect with your deceased loved one in memory. Reconnecting with your loved one may alleviate some of the longing and sadness you feel so you are freer to focus on redefining your goals and reimagining your life purpose.
Even though grief is a normal response to the death of a loved one, and finding new meaning is a natural human tendency, the path to integrated grief can be a complicated one.
Knowing when and being able to shift your focus from working on acceptance of the death to focusing on future goals, or to reconnecting to your loved one, can be challenging. While many individuals can navigate the path to integrated grief with the support of other loved ones, some people can get stuck along the way.
If more than a few months have passed since your loved one died, and you are feeling overwhelmed or recognize your grief is interfering with your day-to-day functioning, it may be while each grief process is unique, and the loss of someone with whom you have shared a deep emotional and supportive relationship usually causes the most intense grief reaction. Someone who has held you up emotionally when you were in crisis, helped shape your sense of self, and/or encouraged you to reach for your dreams is physically removed from your life forever. So it makes sense that in the acute phase of grief, you may feel as though you have lost your sense of self or feel unsure of your life purpose.
If you are overwhelmed by sadness as you struggle to accept th to accept your loved one’s death, the joy that can emanate from finding new meaning in your living, and the peace that flows from reconnecting with your deceased loved one.
In conclusion, note that losing a loved one you might lose yourself but you can reinvent yourself and find a new you even this season of widowhood.
Olatunji, President, Tabitha New Life Foundation wrote this piece from Lagos