Understanding Loss

Losing a loved one hurts terribly and can be utterly overwhelming. It can leave you numb, depressed, confused and generally disoriented. There really is no right or wrong way to grieve although personal characteristics as well as the social-cultural context might influence how we express grief.

It is a direct hit

When we lose a loved one, our whole being—physical, emotional, and mental registers as having received a direct hit. Emotions will include shock, guilt, profound sadness, anger, and disbelief. And just like in physical situations when we are hit; we re-coil, we prepare for the next hit, we shield ourselves, we fight back, and/or we run. It could be one, all, or a combination depending on the circumstances.

ABC of human response

Human response to any situation is a combination of three aspects of our natural make-up. These are: 1) affect, which means emotions, 2) behavior, and 3) cognition which is the action of the mind. The response is not ordered that way but ABC is an easy way to remember these three aspects.

So when information is relayed, it is registered in the mind and processed before emotions kick in. This is why we don’t respond the same way to the news of death of different people, because the mind assigns the weight of the loss and thus determine the response.

At the emotional level, the more significant the loss, the deeper the emotional expressions. This is tied to what the loss means to you personally.

Behavior comes in a range from highly spontaneous (reflex) to highly rational. This has a lot to do with individual characteristics.   Whatever the initial response, it is expected that behavior will be more rational as emotions get calmer

Acknowledge your feelings and responses

Be aware that your loss is personal to you; even siblings grieve differently for the same parent. As such, do not feel ashamed of your feelings or your response. Acknowledging your feelings will help you to handle the immediate aftermath and the progressive healing process that will follow.

Wish you love and Godspeed. Shadrack Kirunga @sskirunga

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