When change hurts, take heart, help is available
“Getting old is not for sissies” said Mae West. To this I would add: neither is experiencing great loss nor dealing with major illness.
Most of us need help adapting to major changes in our lives. We all need to process feelings experienced during crises. For example, feelings of vulnerability may overwhelm us but we may not recognize those feelings at all. The distress from these feelings is often compounded by our fear of admitting to ourselves and to others the need to reach out for comfort—and dare I say it? For help!
When we think of loss, our thoughts usually turn to death, the ultimate loss. However, the dynamics of grieving is present in all types of loss including: divorce, job loss, empty-nesting, retirement, caring for elderly parents, chronic illness, and sometimes even aging. No matter how insignificant a loss may seem to others, it can evoke grief in us with intensity determined by our individual life experiences and temperament.
Generally, when we grieve, we mourn the past that once held so many possibilities. Revisiting that idealized past colours our contemplation of the present, where suffering is still raw. We see only what has been taken away. We find it difficult to think of what remains in any positive light. It feels as if the sadness will never subside. We question our ability to have any meaningful life. The uncertain future becomes almost unbearable.
Regrets churn in the recesses of our minds and hearts. Old wounds re-surface and we feel the haunting pain. Choices made in the past, viable or not, now seem so random, even foolish. We wonder whether we can go on relying on what we know about the world.
A loved one has died. A beloved has succumbed to illness. A career has ended. We have become the parents of our own parents. Our relationship to the world around us has changed. We realize that we have a new place in the world and we worry that it is for the worse. Too often, our sense of self with its drastic shifts, feels out of balance.
It takes enormous strength to realize that we cannot re-establish equilibrium by ourselves and need professional support. The reward of taking the risk of asking for help is a renewed positive outlook on life. A professional therapist can help you restore the ability to see life as full of wondrous challenges and opportunities for growth. I hope that if you find yourself struggling as I have described, that you will not hesitate to reach out to a therapist near you.
To find a therapist, who meets your needs, located near you, click here.
The views expressed in these blogs are the author’s own and not necessarily reflective of those of Psychotherapy Matters. Copyright © 2015 PsychotherapyMatters.com