This factsheet is intended to help you to come to terms with your feelings of loss and realise that what you are experiencing is a normal and natural. Although your loss may initially be very painful, time can ease this pain and enable you to heal.
Loss is a part of life that everyone experiences at some time. Coping with it can be one of life’s biggest challenges. One can experience loss due to any change that you feel profoundly affects your life: the death of a loved one, following divorce or the end of a relationship/friendship, after retirement/loss of a job, when health declines, when you move home – particularly if it’s a new area away from all that’s familiar, and following numerous other life events. This fact sheet will focus on loss due to bereavement but the points discussed apply equally to other losses.
Loss may affect you emotionally, physically, socially and practically. You may experience any of the following reactions:
• Loss of concentration, hope, motivation and energy.
• Feeling helpless, despairing, irritable, angry, guilty, and restless.
• Pain and tearfulness.
• Pessimistic and fearful about the future.
• Feeling more fatigued, error-prone and slower in speech and movement.
• Changes in appetite, sleep patterns or sexual drive.
The recovery process is a very individual one. You may experience all, none, or just some of the stages; in order, possibly moving backwards and forwards between stages. Your personality and strengths may help you cope better with one stage than another. The stages are:
• Disbelief and denial
• Anger and guilt
• Depression and lack of direction
• Understanding and acceptance
• Letting go