Living with a Living Loss. Live Life~Love Life WK 29

When we speak of loss we usually think of a person ‘passing on’ and have an accepted ‘route of passage’ involving traditional wakes or nine nights and funerals followed by burial, cremation and memorial services. Very often we have a grave that we can visit to pay respect to our loved ones as and when we feel. This does not alter our feelings of grieve but it provides a recognized procedure in response to the fact that death is the final farewell.

What happens by comparison when we suffer a living loss? You may have spent years trying to make a relationship work and the moment eventually comes when enough is enough and formal separation occurs. Alternatively your partner might just have had ‘enough’ and walked out the door... worse still if they have entered an alternative relationship. It might be that you are no longer able to see your children or your grandchildren when relationships go wrong. Whatever happens and regardless of how long it takes you will enter a new phase in your life and very often people do not know how to cope with their new found situation.

There will be so many emotions to deal with along the curve of change... which you can Google if you are unfamiliar with the process. Before you can really begin living with a living loss you need to identify the way you feel about events in the past. This is not the same as resurrecting every argument you ever had; it means having an understanding of what went wrong whilst being as non-judgemental as you can in order to understand your own actions and reactions. Whatever the outcome of a relationship we are always responsible for ourselves and need to know who we are before we can proceed to a more fulfilling life. One of the most common side effects of living loss is the loss of self confidence and self esteem. So often we are tempted to view a broken relationship as failure. If you perceive it as failure it will remain a failure. Instead, take the good forwards and learn from the rest so that you will avoid repeating the same mistakes.

To move forwards you need to take action. Usually the first action is to forgive. You might need to forgive other people, especially if you are being denied access to children/grandchildren. It is very likely that you will need to forgive your partner and definitely yourself. We are not perfect but we need to be kind to ourselves and others to prevent resentment. You might require some counselling or maybe you have done enough to last a lifetime... in which case a couple of self help books might help you strategize a little. Ask yourself some questions and write down the answers- here are some guidelines:
• Who are the most important people in your life- what can you do for them & visa versa?
• What are your immediate needs and concerns?
• Which direction do you want your life to take?
• What actions are required in the short and long term?

This will give you something to focus on and start working towards. The benefit of living loss is that you have a new freedom to be yourself; even if you have young children you need to seek out your personal identity. Loss of personal identity is another form of living loss that often occurs particularly for women or house fathers who are primarily focused on bringing up the family, or people who have been in a controlling relationship... they may become too self-sacrificing. If you separate later in life you can really use that opportunity to go on a journey of self exploration. You may be able to study, change jobs, learn new skills or take up a hobby- these are standard suggestions but this is your life and life is about evolving.
Finally I will mention negotiation. Whatever direction you are moving in, after a separation you will probably need to negotiate. If children are involved there should always be room for input from both parents and showing respect for the other parent is crucial. This is why it is important to have dealt with your feelings otherwise they might get in the way and cause more upsets instead of successful outcomes! We cannot negotiate successfully when angry or upset, so try thinking things through when you are in a calm state of mind and can come up with a ‘fair proposal.’

In summary, the steps to coping with a living loss are:
1. Accept and acknowledge that the loss has occurred
2. Identify your feelings... strengths and weaknesses... so that you can move forwards with confidence
3. Consider all aspects of your life and decide what you want- plan for the future
4. Forgive others and yourself
5. Negotiate the best possible outcomes

No-one is saying that this will be easy... it won't- but if you persevere you will come out the other side eventually, as a much stronger and happier person.

The most important lesson in life is to embrace change rather than fight it, so take the time to get to know yourself, work with yourself and take control of your life.

Jaz McKenzie

If you would like to write an article or poetry for Its Braap~Its Life contact: