Thursday, November 13, 2014

Loss, Hopelessness and the Stages of Grief

by M. J. Joachim

Perhaps one of the most painful sufferings we experience in life is the loss of a loved one. It doesn’t matter if they are departing on a new adventure, or if their bodies can no longer be with us, because they’ve passed on to whatever comes next. Losing someone is hard; mourning is to be expected and compassion required.

Loss is never easy to deal with, despite our tempting urges to shout, “Good riddance,” like people do in hard broken relationships, jobs that no longer suit them due to negative experiences or communities people have outgrown for a variety of reasons. We try to soften the blow by saying it’s for the best, but we still feel a sense of loss and mourn the absence of that which is no longer there.

Many of us believe we will see our loved ones in the afterlife when we die. We have hope and cling to it to get us through, especially on rough days. We know we will see our children again when they go off to college - at least we hope so. Even in communities where one neighbor moves across town, people cherish the thoughts of maintaining friendships, despite the absence of living in the same community together.

Hopelessness comes when people rival each other. Perhaps someone is singled out and deemed unworthy in a group. The pecking order descends on all, and the person singled out is often at risk of losing hope in so many things, not the least of which is somehow being worthy enough to remain even the most insignificant member of the group.

Hopelessness happens when hurts and pains have been inflicted to the point of self preservation, the point where the victim(s) no longer wants anything to do with the person or people who have hurt them. They lose hope in the humanity of those people or persons, declaring them incapable of understanding reality and acting appropriately in their lives.

The above scenario often creates a permanent sense of loss, one where hopelessness is the only reasonable response. A firm disconnect has been established, and nothing short of a miracle will ever offer hope of joining those who have separated together again.

Wounds like this take time to heal. As they do so, numerous emotions equated with the stages of grief surface.

Stages of Grief
  • Denial takes place when the hurt first begins to happen. Victims are often willing to compromise (within reason) to prevent a devastating outcome. This stage of denial can lead to a personal sense of unworthiness, loss of self esteem, depraved indignity.
  • Anger comes and goes throughout the ordeal - anger with the person or circumstance creating so much conflict, anger with self for not being strong enough to resist the negativity, or anger with self for being too submissive and tolerant of intolerable behaviors and events. Never mind the anger of the people responsible for causing the pain, theirs an effort to be powerful and gain control of the situation or events.
  • Bargaining takes place, where both parties try to (sort of) work together, making whatever small sacrifices they are able, to end things on a better note. Bargaining is often two-faced, with broken promises being left in its wake.
  • Depression, not clinical, but that of mourning and a sense of deep, serious loss, is only natural. Letting go of someone or something significant in our lives is no easy task, especially when letting go is a result of being betrayed. Memories (both happy and sad) don’t disappear with the absence of whoever or whatever it is that we lost. 
  • Acceptance is the hardest one of all, because once a person accepts a permanent loss in their life, there is no turning back. It is hopeless to ever think of reclaiming that which is no longer there. 
As much as we’d like to believe that all is not lost, that there is hope in all things, we must also conclude that creating and nurturing hope is up to us. If we fail to stand up for what is right, those being affected by what is wrong will remain at risk of losing hope. Those doing wrong will be empowered to darken our world and inflict their pain on others.

The choice is ours, and whether we choose to unite in the efforts to help those in need, or choose to remain silent, we always have the ability to make a choice. We will never be able to erase all wrongs and injustices in our world. Yet, if we make even the smallest difference to one person, a difference that is the miracle that gives people hope to keep moving forward in a positive direction, we will accomplish more than we will ever know, because we will be a light in the darkness, a stronghold representing that which is still good in our world.

Thank you for joining the journey with me. We are Effectively Human, and ours is the task of making the world a better place to live.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Grief Stricken Woman, German Federal Archives, Cooperation Project, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany; FEMA, Workers Unemployed by freeze in Californa, PD-US; A family mourns during a funeral at the Lion’s cemetery in Sarajevo 1992, Mikhail Evstefiev, GNU Free Documentation License