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The Roller Coaster Ride with Change and Loss

Welcome to Lentz Letters! Today we are addressing the roller coaster ride with change and loss.

Change comes whether we are ready for it or not. Ups and downs, twists and turns can leave you with the feeling like your stomach is in your throat! No wonder it is considered one of life’s biggest challenges. The backlash of painful emotions come along for the ride. It reminds me of the one and only roller coaster ride experienced in my lifetime. Fortunately, there are no videos to share with you, but I assure you that there was screaming and clenching of teeth involved throughout ever twist and turn of it! Perhaps you love roller coasters, and this is a good time to remind the reader that everyone is different with no cookie cutter way to maneuver through the twists and turns of change. Often the changes that we experience are not just a loss of cookies which should remain unmentioned if thinking about my roller coaster experience! Change and loss is frequently associated with painful emotions and a need to grief. How you grieve will depend upon your personality, life experience, coping style, faith and how significant the life experience was to you. It is a normal response when undergoing change or loss of something or someone you love. We associate grief with the loss of someone we love. The reality is that we have a need to grieve with many types of losses, not just the death of a loved one. This short list of life events below outlines many reasons for grief. Consider how many times you have been on your own roller coaster experience, excluding the thrill aspect.

Examples of losses that can result in grief:

1. Death of a loved one or a close friend

2. Difficult medical procedure

3. Divorce or marital separation

4. Moving

5. Job loss

6. Relationship break up

7. Legal issues, such as facing jail time or imprisonment

8. Retirement

9. Change in health for self or family member

10. Aging

11. Pregnancy

12. Sexual difficulties

13. Changing Schools

14. Adopting or adding a family member

15. Business readjustment

16. Change in financial state

17. Friendships dissolve

18. Change to a different line of work

19. Relationship conflicts

20. Purchasing a home with a major mortgage

21. Foreclosure

22. Change in responsibilities and work environment

23. Child leaving home

24. Trouble with in-laws

25. New jobs with more demands

26. Miscarriage

27. Death of a pet

28. Loss of a cherished dream

29. Loss of safety after a trauma

30. Selling the family home

31. Graduating from college

32. Getting a promotion

33. Entering recovery and saying goodbye to the drug or drink of choice

34. Grieving over the family that you deserved but never had

Kubler-Ross created stages that individuals who are grieving go through. There is no particular order with these stages and some of the stages are by-passed all together.

These are:

Denial: “This can’t be happening to me”.

Anger: “Why is this happening? Who can I blame?”

Bargaining: “Make this stop happening, and in return I promise to ….”

Depression: “I am too sad to do anything without ….”

Acceptance: “I am at peace and thankful for my memories.”

Too often, grief can be so unbearable that many people do not allow themselves the time that they need to process the emotional pain. Trying not to think about the grief will not make it go away. There is no specific timeline for how long it will take to process the loss in your life. Everyone is different. The point is that you work on processing your grief in a way that works for you. Processing your grief means that you do not forget the special memories that you hold but that you learn to accept the loss while still holding and cherishing the memory. Moving on requires that you learn to acknowledge the pain, know that your grief will trigger unexpected emotions, allow yourself the time you need to grieve in however it feels right to you, practice positive self-care, use your support to be able to recognize the difference between the grieving process and depression, and seek the help of a therapist if at any time you feel like life is not worth living, wish you had died, blame yourself for the loss or failing to prevent it, feel disconnected from others for more than a few weeks, are having difficulty trusting others since your loss, or are unable to perform normal daily activities.

Staying stuck in your grief will keep you preoccupied with the loss and prevents you from moving forward with life.

Consider what happens in life when you dig in your heals and resist any change. The focus becomes on yearning for the way life was rather than the way that it is in current reality. Resisting change can result in anger or bitterness settling in. Blaming, whether it is self- blame or directed at another person, will not make the change go away. Denial or disbelief that the change has occurred are attempts at clinging to the past and not embracing the present. Life can feel empty and meaningless if it is defined by what once was. If you want to experience life but grief is getting in the way, know that you don’t have to go through the grieving process alone. Know that as your therapist, I commit to walking with you whether you embrace the steps for moving forward in life or remain stuck. Call today!

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