Monday, August 06, 2012

How to Cope With a Loss


Do you have a fear or phobia?  Maybe a fear of snakes, heights, public speaking or spiders?  Indiana Jones had a fear of snakes and faced that moment when it was either face his fear or die.  Rarely are we placed in such extreme circumstances.  What do you avoid in order to not have to deal with your fears?  Often the things you avoid might be very subtle.  You may avoid getting on ladders, if you have a fear of heights.  You may slump in you chair anytime the boss is asking for volunteers to do a presentation.  The day will come in which you may be forced to face these fears, so it is in your best interest to work at them.  Facing any loss has the same dynamics.

Do feelings of grief just go away or do you need to work at it.  Do you avoid triggers of the loss?  You will experience them anyway at some point so it is best to deal with them sooner versus later.  

For me there are many triggers to Emm's death.  I went inside Primary Children's Hospital for the first time since her death several months ago.  I went to deliver a book to the out patient clinic, where Emm was treated, while she was sick with cancer.  A flood of memories and emotions took over.  I tried not to think about it, but it was like being in a plane that is taking off and not noticing the sound of the jet engines before take off.  It almost seemed as if my thoughts were that loud in my head.  When the receptionist asked if it was difficult being in the clinic, the emotions just started spilling out.  The memories of her chemo, her hospitalizations, being in the ICU and her death pressed down upon me as if extra weight had just been added to my back.  I wonder if I actually looked as if I were slumping.  

I could have just avoided going up to the hospital, but as some point I would have to face those feelings anyway so why not just do it?  After a loss we all will have triggers to face.  It may be a song, a place, a person, certain memories, or certain objects.  The list of triggers could be endless and once you face one another may pop up in its place.  

Instead of avoiding our fears or triggers relating to a loss, face them.  You will be glad you did.  That way you won't be put in a position of having to avoid people, places or things either consciously or unconsciously. 

Steve Havertz is the author of "Dragonfly Wings for Emmalee" an inspirational book about the life and death of his daughter Emmalee.  At the end of this book he shares his personal and professional experiences with loss and give advice to those who are grieving.  He has been a licensed mental health therapist for over 20 years and an excellent speaker and motivator.     

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