Loss is a natural, inescapable part of a full life. Yet usually one can find ways to counterbalance loss with things that are either soothing or positive. Interestingly, during this time of quarantine many of our go-to options to navigate loss are restricted AND at the same time the entire world is trying to manage one loss after the other. The feeling of loss organically brings up discomfort, fear and sometimes despair. However with a Mindful approach to loss, we can see that it is an opportunity to gain skill, strength and realign with what is most important to us.
Loss is experienced oftentimes in the same way in which we feel emotions move through us. So approaching loss like any painful emotion can make it feel less “alien” and more like a discomfort for which we already have skills. Obviously, if at all possible, the ideal time to use our skills is before the sense of loss has become “really big.” Use as many as you can and if the pain really grows, then turn to your distract skills for some time. However, using the skills you can as a loss hits you, for as long as you are able will reduce the intensity and duration of your loss.
Try these ideas to help you manage the pain and discomfort of loss:
- Use the “yes, and” technique to both honor and validate your loss and at the same time remind yourself of what you still have.
- Add the phrase “right now, I feel…..” in front of your current loss to remind you that this experience is time limited.
- Since loss can sometimes generate the desire to crawl in a hole, do some opposite action and reach out instead. Who can you call that will just listen and not try and solve anything?
- If you want to learn to be with the feeling of loss, strongly engage your Observe and Describe skills with the physical sensations of loss – be mindful to try and avoid the mental commentary.
- Stay one-mindful. Loss is hard and scary and it’s important to take things as they are right now, not project them into the future or go back and review the past.
- T.L.C. – Make full use of all the things/actions/choices you can make right now to allow yourself to feel (self)comforted and the pain just may take up a little less focus.
Once things feel less difficult, take time to journal and/or share with someone supportive your feelings about not being able to change the event or circumstance. Loss can leave us feeling pained and adrift, but it is always temporary. Over time with the right kind of support, the pain of the loss softens. Maybe it never goes away completely, but some part of you will know you’ve made it past the worst of it. Additionally, practicing gratitude is extremely useful, particularly as the loss-wave subsides. Make a list, maybe even text it to someone or just reach out and say thanks. This will softly counter-balance the hole that the loss has created.
Above all, be kind with yourself and trust you’re doing the best you can.