Hello and welcome to Kick Start.
I’m Alice from Christians Against Poverty and in this session, we’re going to talk about handling loss.
When we think about loss, we often think about the emotional pain of losing someone we love.
But during the course of our lives, we experience the same feeling in response to things like the loss of a friendship, health, mobility, the loss of your own youth, or the loss of a job.
Even a positive change like a promotion or getting married, moving house or our children growing up can involve loss.
Grief is the process that we go through when we experience the pain of loss.
In this session, we’ll explain how to navigate the five stages of grief in a healthy way.
Failing to deal with loss in a healthy way can lead to feelings of powerlessness and fear.
Because of this, grief and loss can act as triggers in the habit loop for our dependency.
Let me introduce you to Deyonne. On Boxing Day of 2014, my gran passed away from cancer which was really difficult for me personally ’cause we were really really close.
I don’t think I dealt with my emotions very well.
I just sort of bottled them up and just hid them because I felt like I needed to be strong for my mum ’cause they were also really close.
I sort of just hid away from that emotion, of that loss, and just tried to think about other things and tried to blame other things on it.
Like, I would say I was tired but actually I was missing my gran or I’d say I wasn’t feeling well or I had a headache but actually I just didn’t wanna face the world
because it just didn’t seem worth it without my gran.
It was really difficult for me to control my emotions, so if I got a tiny bit sad, I’d completely flip out and my head was telling me that I wasn’t worth anything or my life didn’t mean anything and there was no purpose behind anything and it was just quite a dark place to be in.
So my coping method is eating.
I love food so much.
So when I was happy I would eat and celebrate.
And then when I was really sad I just wanted to eat junk food and a lot of the times I would eat to the point where I felt so sick that I couldn’t move.
But I wasn’t being sick or anything, it was just that I’d overeaten for no reason at all.
That’s when I decided I need to do something about this.
I didn’t even realise that it had such a hold over me and it’s where most of my anxiety came from.
When I did start to get into those negative cycles, like how to stop it.
So not just saying, ‘Oh, just stop doing that’.
It was more about, ‘What can I do instead?’
So I did seven minutes of positive thinking a day and that really helped me because it meant that I was thinking positively rather than negatively which combatted that cycle of getting myself down.
I have this sense of freedom.
I feel free from the sadness that I felt when she was gone and the sadness that she’s not gonna be around for the big things in my life ’cause I know that she’s still looking down and watching.
And it allows you to just take a breath and be like, that is so amazing that I can actually get over this thing.
I don’t have to live with it for the rest of my life.
We’re going to look at five steps to deal with grief in a healthy way later.
But first, we need to understand where our own feelings of loss come from.
Can you identify situations that could lead to a feeling of loss?
To be able to grieve in a healthy way, we need to understand what we’re feeling at different stages.
There are five universal stages of grief, denial, anger, regret, depression and acceptance.
When we receive bad news, our first reaction can be to deny what is happening.
We can’t believe what’s happened.
Our minds can’t take in what we’re hearing.
We block out words and hide from the facts.
This is a natural defence mechanism that can buffer the immediate shock and get us through that first wave of pain.
As denial wears off and the reality of the situation sinks in, the intense pain and emotion that we feel easily translates into anger.
Our anger may be directed at random objects, family and friends, or complete strangers, doctors, or even our deceased or dying loved ones.
Rationally, we know it’s not their fault and we feel guilty for being angry which can make us more angry.
Regret or bargaining.
A normal reaction is to look back and wonder if there’s anything we could have done differently to prevent the loss.
We might think things like, ‘If only I had sought medical help earlier or got a second opinion.’
‘If only I’d been a better husband, she wouldn’t have left me.’
‘If only I’d not let them stay out so late.’
We also may try to make a bargain with God to make the situation better.
A deep sadness may overtake us as we mourn the loss and the separation that has happened.
It can be hard to see how life could ever be good again and we lose hope for the future.
We feel empty and the grief goes deeper than we could have ever imagined.
It’s natural to feel these things and we need to allow ourselves to experience these things to move through this stage.
This stage is marked by an acceptance of what or who we have lost.
This stage is not saying that what has happened is okay but this stage is about accepting that this is the new reality.
It’s permanent and we learn to just live with it.
We won’t always progress through these stages in order.
Grief is an intensely personal process and we could even experience several stages in one day.
We may feel one then experience the other and then go back to the start again.
Grief is a process that we need to experience and feel, to find healing.
Everyone experiences grief differently and you may want different support at different times.
Here are five things that you can do yourself to ease the healing process of grief.
First, look after yourself.
Make sure you rest and eat well even when you’re not hungry and exercise even when you don’t want to.
Second, avoid big changes or life decisions.
Emotionally, you won’t be in a position to make the best decisions and you don’t want to make a decision that you can’t change later.
Third, ask for support.
Ask those that you love and trust for the support you want.
You don’t have to face this alone and connecting with others will improve your mental wellbeing.
Write about your loss.
Writing about your loss can bring your unexpressed emotions to the surface
which can help you to move forward in the grieving process.
It could be writing a diary, writing a poem or even a letter.
Mark your loss.
There are many different things that we can do to mark our loss.
From a church service to a gathering of friends, making a photo album or a film.
These moments help us to acknowledge that the loss is real.
It’s a way to honour the loss and to separate the past from the present.
Unfortunately, loss is an inevitable part of life.
If we understand how to better cope with the small losses, it will prepare us better to grieve for the major ones.
When a painful loss first occurs, it’s impossible to imagine that anything good could come from it.
With time and perspective however, we may be able to see something positive.
You may be able to appreciate good times more than ever before.
Or you may have an increased respect for your own strength and resilience.
Most importantly, you can understand what others are going through as a result of your own experience.
Grieving is never easy, but there is always hope.
As we go through life, we all experience loss and the emotions that come with it. We can struggle with feelings of loss for all sorts of reasons, including when somebody passes away, the end of a relationship, a health diagnosis, and even a positive change like a promotion or getting married. Grief is the process we go through when we experience the pain of loss. Not dealing with loss in a healthy way can lead to feelings of powerlessness and fear.
In this session, you’ll navigate the different stages of loss and deal with loss in a healthy way. This ties in closely with the Handling your habits session as loss can play a significant role in the habit loop.
This session aims to help you identify situations where you’ve experienced (or are currently experiencing) feelings of loss and to recognise the different stages of grief. You’ll discover practical tips for navigating the healing process and coping with feelings of loss and grief.
You should end the session with a better understanding of the five stages of grief – denial, anger, regret or bargaining, depression and acceptance – and feel more able to identify these stages in their own experiences. Of course, we’re not suggesting that the session will ‘solve’ anybody’s grief, but we do hope that it will help you better understand the process, the emotions we go through, and how to deal with all of this in a healthier way.
Yes! We offer additional facilitator resources, such as guidance on activities and discussions, to allow you to run this as a group session for your church or community. Fill out the form and you’ll receive an email confirmation with instructions on how to access your free resources.