Life is in motion and every change means a loss. Every loss means grieving.As we’re growing older we might grieve the loss of youth. With longing for achievements in our career we might grieve the loss of past positions. With marriage we might grieve the loss of at least part of our independence. With being fired from a job for economic reasons we might be grieving the loss of financial stability. And with experiencing traumatic events like betrayal or disasters we are definitely grieving the loss of safety. We can also grieve the loss of treasured objects that has been with us since childhood and suddenly being taken away or destroyed. Our pets can give us grieve as they can run away and are missed the rest of our life keeping us in the everlasting uncertainty about what has happened. This again leads us to the army and missing soldiers who let the grief for their partner and family never come to an end. Then there’s the unexpected loss by accident that’s often grieved very intensively and long because we just can’t believe that somebody can leave us from one second to another in the bloom of life. With the loss of a partner we’re also losing and grieving our role of being a husband/wife. With the loss of a child we’re also losing and grieving the role of being a mother/father.
A loss always forces us to re-think, re-question and re-shape our lives and our roles. That makes it not only a bad thing but also reason for learning and growing personally. As soon as we have accomplished the first tasks of grieving, accepting that our loved one has gone forever, acknowledging that we can feel all different kinds of emotions and that none of them are bad (guilt, blame, relief, fear, anger, sadness), we can go on re-defining ourselves, re-defining our roles, re-defining our goals, meaning, purpose in life and as well taping into skills that have been hidden or never needed, as well as developing new skills. With actively working on that previous task we will automatically find a place for our loved one inside our heart and in our new life and many ways to live the memories we shared.
As a counsellor I always have to say “STOP!” if a client tells me that his/her loved one “was taken away from him/her”. First of all, you don’t own or possess another person. All the people we’re meeting in our life are only accompanying us for a certain time of our life journey. Second, the wording of “is taken away” indicates passiveness and victimizing and we are not victims but creators of our lives and we have to actively accomplish the tasks that life gives to us.
Victor Frankl, the father of Logo Therapy lost his wife and his family in Concentration Camps and he himself had to suffer inhumane tortures in Auschwitz, but he always carried the memories of his wife within his heart and he never gave up hope because he had given meaning to his life and even in the most dramatic and traumatic situation visualized himself holding a speech about his realizations and knowledge arising from losing everything but his dignity. He often used to recite Nietsche who said: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”