Different types of loss
When we talk and think about loss and bereavement it is often in relation to when someone dies. There are however many other different types of loss not involving someone's death that can often bring about a similar process of grief and its accompanying feelings.
Often other types of loss are brushed over or not acknowledged by others and even ourselves. We might then feel confused or that there is something wrong with us when we experience grief and it’s accompanying emotions in our day to day life.
Here below are some examples of loss that sometimes get missed:
Loss of a pet
The loss of a pet can often be felt as deeply as the loss of a loved one, for many people a family pet is often seen as a family member. The relationships that many of us have with animals are usually less complicated than those that we have with many humans and often the attachment that we can feel between us and our pets can be seen as unconditional love. As such their loss can feel incredibly painful.
The loss of a pet can also lead to a loss of structure in one’s life as activities that went along with having the pet such as taking the dog for a walk can also come to an end.
The role the pet played in your life can also have a strong impact when it comes to their loss. For instance if they were a guide dog you will also be grieving the loss of your independence in the short term.
Guilt can also be a common feeling to feel when grieving the loss of a pet particularly if you were unable to afford expensive veterinary care or had to put your pet down.
When a relationship comes to an end - breakups
When romantic relationships come to an end, it can bring about a sense of loss and grief. Sometimes the loss can feel greater than we might have anticipated and there can often be unhelpful thoughts that go through our head such as “well we weren’t seeing each other for that long so I shouldn't be upset.”
Some factors that will affect the emotional weight behind a breakup include:
Commitment within the relationship
How long the relationship lasted
What plans you had for the future
If one partner doesn't want to break up
If there was infidelity
How happy the relationship was before the breakup
The feeling of loss can also affect you as much as if you were the one to end the relationship depending upon the circumstances. Anger, guilt, confusion and inadequacy are also common emotions associated with breakups.
The process of grieving can be complicated if there are disputes about ongoing ties between you such as if you have children or pets together, mutual friends, shared responsibilities and ownership of property. The way these issues are decided can also lead to other experiences of loss in themselves.
When friendships come to an end
Less spoken about is when friendships come to an end. For a lot of people losing a best friend can be just as painful, if not more, than the ending of a relationship. It's common to think that relationships come and go but true friendships last forever. However friendships are not immune from ending and when they do it can feel like something has gone very wrong and be very hard to accept.
Often the ending of friendships can be harder to talk about and deal with than the ending of romantic relationships because the loss often isn't acknowledged. When a romantic relationship comes to an end, there is an expectation of some period of mourning and heartache. With the ending of a friendship, this is less socially spoken about and we don't have as much language and awareness around it.
When friendships end they are often, though not always, the case of people gradually growing apart rather than there being a defining moment or conversation that marks the end of the friendship. Not having a clear ending can lead to feelings of guilt, frustration, confusion and not being good enough. With loss in general, not having a clear ending and reason for why things have ended often complicates our process of grief.
The ending of a friendship can be a very isolating experience as depending upon the circumstance of how things end it may create a loss of additional mutual friends and impact the structure of friendship and social groups that both are part of.
Losing a job
Losing a job either through leaving, being fired or being made redundant can have a strong emotional impact for many people. A lot of people make an identity for themselves out of the job they have and work is one of the key ways that many of us find meaning and purpose in our lives. To lose a job then can be a big blow to one’s sense of self identity and lead to having to find new ways of finding meaning.
For some people being fired or made redundant may not be a big deal but for others it may bring about feelings of shame, of not being good enough and of insecurity. Like with other types of loss much of the emotional weight behind the loss depends upon the investment of time they spent working there, what other opportunities they may have passed up, the sacrifices made for work and their plans for their future there. There can also be feelings of anger and frustration particularly if the person feels that they have made a lot of sacrifice to their employers or were promised things that never transpired. There can be a lot of anxiety and feelings of low self worth if someone was made redundant because of technological innovation and they find themselves in a job market where their skill set is outdated or obsolete.
The loss of a job can also lead to someone initially not being able to process their grief as they may feel preoccupied about finding another source of income or job, particularly if they have a lot of dependents and financial obligations that need paying.
Like other types of grief there can also be mixed emotions about losing a job. Relief can be a common felt emotion in addition to the others mentioned when someone leaves a job that they may have been doing out of necessity but not necessarily enjoyed or found meaning in.
Moving places and life transitions
Big changes to our lives that can often be seen as positive and part of our natural growth can also be experienced as loss and trigger emotional pain. Examples of this include moving to a new house, going to university and moving to another country.
Whilst there may be many positives to this it, the ending of familiar activities and being in a new environment without old friends and family can come as a surprise to many who might not have realised the impact it would have on them. Sometimes this type of loss can create doubt, guilt and uncertainty in the person about their choice.
It can also be harder to process when the change is seen as a necessity rather than something you genuinely want to do for its own sake; for instance you decide to move somewhere new because of work opportunities but would prefer to live where you are.
The other side to this can be when someone or people important to you move away such as when children leave home. With this there can be a loss of personal identity and may impact other relationships you have with friends and family.
Other life transitions don’t necessarily involve moving to different environments but involve saying goodbye to different stages in time such as saying goodbye to our single life when we form a relationship with someone or saying goodbye to the things we got up to in our youth as we get older.
Loss of health and mobility
Loss of mobility or health can come about because of an accident, disease or as part of aging. Permanent or long lasting loss of mobility in addition to making many everyday tasks incredibly difficult or impossible for those affected, can lead to feelings of a loss of self. This can lead to isolation and further feelings of depression, anxiety and feelings of low self worth. It can also lead to feelings of guilt, anger and frustration at having to depend upon others and feeling like a burden to others.
For those friends and family members of someone who has lost their health or mobility they may also experience a loss of the person they knew before. This can be very isolating and difficult for them to talk about and their grief can often get suppressed as a result.
Much of how someone experiences loss of their health and mobility depends upon if there is a route to recovery or if the loss is permanent.
Everyone’s experience of grief is unique to them and their circumstances but I hope this helps shed some light on different types of loss that might not be talked about or recognised as much. If you are experiencing one of these losses or grieving, counselling can help you through providing a supportive space for yourself and help you with processing thoughts and feelings that you might be experiencing but find it difficult to talk to others about.
If you are interested in finding out more about counselling or booking an initial counselling session email me at email@example.com or call or text me on 07480 441993.