When we experience a loss, we grieve, just like a bereavement
Although the term ‘Loss’ is often related to bereavement, it can also have several other connotations, all equally poignant in a person’s life.
A loss is a very personal and unique feeling, so to accurately define a ‘loss’ in a collective term would be difficult, with the Oxford English Dictionary defining ‘Loss’ as ‘The fact of losing. (something specified or contextually implied)’ (Oxford English Dictionary, 2023).
Whilst most people can describe their own understanding of the term ‘loss’, it is not universally or commonly associated with grief and grieving.
There are many possibilities which could be related to experiences of loss, but they could consist of:
Loss of a relationship/divorce/breakup
Loss of employment
Loss of a house/place to live
Loss of health – a new diagnosis or a worsening of a medical condition
Loss of independence
A loss could therefore be viewed as a small change in circumstances, right up to a life-changing experience or event.
When we experience a loss, we grieve, just like a bereavement. We grieve the loss of something that meant a lot to us and held a personal or emotional connection in our lives. The associated thoughts and feelings can feel just as overwhelming and just as distressing, as well as having an impact on a person’s day-to-day living.
After a bereavement, as well as grieving the loss of a loved one, additional losses may not initially be evident, however, they are no less significant. The physical loss of a loved one is the most noticeable change to a person's life; however, the following is also important to recognise:
The loss of a shared life together
The loss of a shared future together
The loss of your shared social life.
The loss of all that your loved one did for you. For example, they might have been the one who fixed problems around the house, or who managed your finances.
How we experience and feel about a loss is complex and different from person to person, however, some features can both exacerbate and/or lessen their effect.
The circumstances of the bereavement - If it was sudden or expected. For instance, after a long illness, after an accident, or if it was traumatic or violent.
The relationship/emotional closeness to the person who died.
Other commitments – additional caring duties for children, other family members, or friends. Work commitments and social and financial circumstances
The personal, physical, and psychological effects of a loss can be just as profound so seeking support can be equally as effective as seeking support after a bereavement.
As a Grief Specialist, I would always recommend speaking to a grief and loss professional if you need support with the emotions and feelings associated with a loss. They will offer a safe and confidential space to be able to talk about the often complex and difficult emotions.
Jo Goodwin-Worton retrained and qualified as a grief specialist and now offers real-life experience and academia to support people through a loss or bereavement. Having had first-hand experience of grief herself Jo can relate to your grief experience and offer you the support you need at such a difficult time. You can learn more about Jo here.