Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.

Different Levels of Loss

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Sep 21, 2014 2:48 PM

An 80-year old woman, full of vitality and intelligence, tells poignant stories of her dear late husband, whom she has missed for fifteen years. She finds life lukewarm and sees things through a haze without him. Keeping his memory alive, enjoys her adult children and grandchildren when they visit from out-of-State, and finds joy in little things all of which  helps. She still feels half here, though....

A 60-year old woman finds beauty, hope and joy in the marriage of her adult son and his wife but wishes that she and his father were intact and happy together, or that his stepparents were totally his type, or that all of them got along great and had tons of jun together. She daydreams about how things could have been and pines for a life which hasn't existed for over a decade and wasn't even perfect back when....

A 30-year old woman misses her mom, who died way too young, dreaming about conversations with her, wanting so badly for her to see her new baby, and feeling that her life is only half of what it should be. She loves her husband but finds his family wanting. She is happy enough but there will always be a gap... 

There's a real question about how to overcome loss, integrate happy memories into one's being, learn from suffering and appreciate what's good. I think we all tend to feel what's missing in the present so deeply that it's too hard to face. Instead, we face the loss of the parts of life we had before because that grief is acceptable, understood and palpable. There's nothing we have to do to fix or change those losses because they happened and can't be undone. It's today's injustices, mistakes, and difficulties that we avoid, rather than address. It's just too hard and uncertain. We're insecure humans and don't want to shake things up. 

Next time, these people and we are overwhelmed by what's gone, we should look at what's not there now, too, and try to figure out how to improve our present lives, directly or by finding ways to compensate.

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