Horne: Dealing with loss often learned in childhood

Dealing with loss is not something many of us were taught to do well as children.

How we learn to feel and behave when a loss occurs is often influenced by the significant adults in our life as we were growing up.

Early childhood patterns can develop that become the same ones you use today to deal with the current losses in your life.

This can be the death of someone you love, the loss of a job, moving from a place that is familiar, divorce, a change in your physical state or any other number of personal losses that initiate a letting go process.

Some examples of learned patterns that not only affect the way you handle grief and loss, but also play a significant role in establishing a belief system that governs your relationships are: It’s better to grieve alone; replace the loss; bury your feelings; just give it time; protect yourself; regret the past; don’t get involved—people will only leave you anyway; get all you can before it’s taken away from you; don’t expect anything; it’s not safe to trust; just keep busy and you will feel better.

Our reliance on intellect at the expense of showing feelings has reached epidemic proportions.

We get into the habit of not allowing ourselves to really deal with pain by expressing ourselves emotionally and instead move to the more comfortable intellectual part of our brain.

Each time a loss is not concluded and remains unresolved emotionally there is a cumulative restriction on our aliveness.

Over time each loss builds one upon the other. It seems easy to comprehend that a significant loss of someone you love can profoundly affect a person, but we give less credence to the many other losses that can be experienced and gradually chip away at our state of happiness due to the bottling up of feelings.

The Grief Recovery Handbook by John James and Frank Cherry is an excellent resource to gain insightful information about personal losses and why taking action to follow a roadmap for recovery is so highly beneficial for all of us.

They offer an understanding of how grieving is the most neglected growth process a person can go through.

Some of the key concepts of grief “recovery” that these authors describe are:

• Recovery is feeling better

• Recovery means claiming your circumstances instead of your circumstances claiming your happiness

• Recovery is finding new meaning for living without the fear of future abandonment

• Recovery is being able to enjoy fond memories without having them precipitate painful feelings of loss, guilt, regret, or remorse

• Recovery is acknowledging that it is perfectly all right to feel bad from time to time and to talk about those feelings no matter how those around you react

• Recovery is being able to forgive others when they say or do things that you know are based on their lack of knowledge about grief

• Recovery is one day realizing that your ability to talk about the loss you’ve experienced is in fact helping another person get through his or her loss.

Feelings don’t always choose the most appropriate time to reveal themselves.

If we trust our body instead of our intellect, it knows when to release pain, it knows when to let someone in to help, it guides us on how to open up to receive the love that heals.

And as you do, a little recovery happens and the heart once again is able to give and to receive.

If isolating is one of your developed patterns when it comes to processing loss, make a different choice and reach out for support.

One wonderful local resource is the Central Okanagan Hospice Association.

Pauline Weninger, their bereavement coordinator, can help you on your path to dealing with a loss in your life.

Call her at 250-763-5511.

You can also visit, the website for the Grief Recovery Institute for more information and access to the Grief Recovery Handbook.

It offers a journeying process back through your life to understand how unresolved loss has affected you and it is well worth the read.

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