As we enter this season of fall, loss and change have profound impacts on our lives, whether we recognize it or not. We have a tendency to resist change and the uncertainty that comes along with it. We also struggle when we experience a lack of control in life.
Recognizing that our story is malleable, embracing change, and learning to grow is essential to craft our most fulfilling life.
Oftentimes old, entrenched beliefs and behaviors, coupled with our environment, prevent us from processing and moving through life challenges. These challenges may result in grief and the inability to move through experiences related to loss.
We typically associate loss to be of a loved one, however, loss can also be:
a job or career
Within each of the categories above, there are additional subcategories. These are secondary losses or losses that occur due to initial loss.
Whether you’ve had to restructure your life due to a pandemic, challenges with your health, or the loss of a loved one, each and every loss has a strong impact on the present, as well as the future. Finding ways to cope and heal will help us move out of the past. While the changes are still there and ever occurring, we can find effective ways through it.
Here are 3 ways to support yourself through any loss, whether it’s an initial or secondary loss:
1. Leaning into loss and grief.
When we resist the emotions that surface due to loss, we are robbing ourselves of true transformation. When one thing falls away, another is waiting to emerge. In society, there is finally a shift in the understanding that our intelligent bodies are connected to our active minds. If we don’t authentically express those emotions that surface, they will show up in other ways, like in our reactivity toward loved ones and in our physical bodies.
When we settle into the fact that we are supposed to express, experience, and embrace all emotions, we are allowing the healing process to begin.
One way to do so is by seeking professional help in order to understand how our emotions are here to serve us rather than harm us. It’s never easy to seek out help especially when we are in the muck of grief and suffering.
It’s also hard to even know where to start.
If you do have health insurance, there are therapists that you can search for in your network. Additionally, there are mental health apps with affordable rates to better accommodate those without health insurance. Lastly, there are certified and trained life and mental health coaches who specialize in helping people with a variety of challenges who support clients by offering sliding scale payment options.
Exploring this type of support offers an unbiased and open environment.
Allowing yourself to express what you need to while finding trust and comfort in someone who is experienced in helping someone with your challenges, allows you to express whatever you want in a trusting and comforting space. It also gives you the opportunity to fully process the loss, understanding why a loss is so challenging and how it’s changed your life for the future.
2. A perceptive shift on loss and change.
When my father passed away in 2018, I was in the best mental space of my life. The most challenging part about his passing was the PTSD due to taking care of him. Had I not worked on my mental health the four years prior, I’m not sure how I would be perceiving the loss today.
Here are a few mentally stable pieces that I carry with me through loss:
I learned to lighten the term by coupling it with change. For change being such a challenge for so many, it’s surprising that it is such a constant in life. It’s like we want to say, “Hey life, can you cut us a break every now and then?”
It’s about building an adaptive strength to these changes and knowing that they will inevitably play a part in each act of our show.
I believe that there is no productivity in spending energy in the past. Instead I ask, what will serve me most in this present moment in order to move forward?
Sleep, sleep, sleep. I programmed my mind to sleep, no matter what was going on in my daily life by telling myself, “The best way to function most optimally tomorrow is by getting a restful night's sleep.”
We live in a country and culture where death or loss is seen as the absolute worst thing to happen to ‘us’. While painful, we forget that rather than focusing on years that we expected to have, we also had all of those years with that person or experience that can guide us into the future without them.
We choose our perspectives and I choose to let things go and flow where I cannot change or control them. What we resist will unfortunately persist.
Rather than being stuck in the challenge, find out what parts of the losses you can still take with you in the future. Not the loss itself, but rather the growth and love that surrounded you while that person or thing was still present in your life.
3. Cultivating space for that missing value to reemerge.
This is not meant to sound easy like, ‘Oh, I’ve found the replacement and it’s done!’ No matter what we are trying to replace, whether it be the loss of a person, a job, a hobby, something that originally meant so much to us, it will never be the same, but we can recreate that same feeling that it offered up, in other parts of our lives.
My first thought when the pandemic approached were the many losses that we would endure in the world. Freedom, familiarity, connection, understanding, people. Collective grief was approaching us.
What did that thing, person, place offer you and how can you find it in something else in life?
We often don’t realize that what we are missing is that feeling or value that we once connected to the thing that we lost.
I will use my own life with two examples:
Due to my body’s physical limitations, I decided that self-defense training and running daily were not the hobbies for me anymore. So what could give me the same passion and liberation for physical and mental self-defense and strength? Instead I ride my Rogue airbike every single day to stabilize my joints, gain strength, and incorporate cardio. My value that aligns with this example is stability.
As for practicing yoga or teaching yoga, instead of being able to do the postures or asanas, I visualize teaching a yoga class in my head. I connect with my breath and the vision of my body going through the motions with an open-hearted group of students in front of me. The values that I connect with are community and peace.
To end, ask yourself…
What are the values that align with the loss that I’m missing in my life?
How can I recreate _____ somewhere else in my life?
What are the things that I can take with me for my future self that I’ve gained through this life transition?
How can it make me better, for myself and for others?
Macy Cassera is a mental health coach, ambassador and freelance blog writer. She has prior experience as a model in New York City for fashion, commercial and parts modeling. Macy combines these passions with mental health awareness to underpin our sense of self and strive for a world of inclusivity and equitable representation. To get in touch with Macy, please send her an email or send a message through her official website or Instagram.