Recently, I’ve been part of volunteer training for a crisis helpline. We’ve been discussing the concept of loss which is a situation that we may encounter as helpline volunteers. After diving into the topic and reflecting on my own life, I started to see how it applied. To my surprise I also saw how it applied to situations I would not have considered to be a loss. Loss isn’t necessarily just a death of someone close to you. It can certainly stem from other areas in one’s life: loss of friendships, a home etc. Essentially any major change in one’s life can be viewed as a loss and trigger the grieving process. I want to apply what I learnt to an important area of loss of my life. The ending of my relationship over a year ago was significant to me. It triggered other losses as well which ultimately had a greater impact on me. What did I feel? I suspect a lot of you have also gone through a similar grieving process. Grieving Process Shock - I was expecting it to end at some point. It felt unsustainable, but nevertheless, the breakup induced a strong response in me. I remember the tears. I cried a lot that day. There really was nothing but intense sadness. Nothing else mattered. Denial – I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to think about it. I believe I spent most of my time here. I could forget it and stop processing it by shifting my focus onto something else. It was a terrible way to cope, but it kept me going in a demanding work environment. I worked twelve hour days, I worked weekends. I was inefficient, but it killed a lot of time. If time heals all wounds, then I was trying to burn as much time as I could. Anger- Ahh, my uncontrollable outbursts. Sometimes I wonder if my family could recognize an unusual turbulence in my moodiness. Sometimes when you’re hurt, you want to hurt others. I was very snippy. I was really mean at times. Sometimes I felt I was justified. I was terribly hurt. Anything said to me or done to me that hurt even a little set me off. Guilt – I was brooding here for quite some time as well. I’m not sure if I’m in the clear from here though. I blamed myself. What could I have done differently to change things? Should I have been more open, more communicative? What did I do to make her fall out of love with me? Or at least to the point where it was bearable for her to just let me go? I obviously didn’t have any answers, and I was never satisfied with the answers she gave me that day she broke up with me. Thinking about this brings back unsettling feelings. I’ve studied a lot of science and accounting. Ultimately, there’s an answer, a why for everything in those subjects, but here I just couldn’t get one. I had to learn to live with this uncertainty, forever. I hated it. My therapist just told me that at the end of the day it didn’t matter why. In the end she checked out. The way I would eat, or the way I sneezed would have been a problem for her if she stayed. Once somebody checks out of the relationship hotel, nothing will change that. Blame- I tried placing blame on others. My anger was aimed at her initially. Why wasn’t I worth it for her? Why didn’t she want to place any effort to make things right? I’ll never know - another tough pill to swallow. I blamed her close friends as well, thinking they must have convinced her that I was no good. Of course thinking along these lines didn’t exactly make me feel better. Rationalization – In trying to view the breakup from a point of view other than emotions, I decided it was bound to ultimately end. Its ending was an opportunity for me to do other things. I would learn and grow stronger from it. I’m not sure I believe it, but I need to tell myself these things to feel better. Integration – a better word than acceptance. This is where I try to rebuild aspects of my life. As I mentioned earlier I lost a lot of friends along the way and some I really didn’t want to lose when on the brink, but ultimately you can’t avoid collateral damage. I’m in this phase now. I know I need friendships, but that takes a lot of leg work and effort. It’s a struggle, but I’m trying. I’m trying to pursue a new career. I’m trying to correct the things in my life that weren’t working well before. I still find it hard to stick to this path. I still think of her. There are times where I let my mind wander to a time we were still together, happy in each other’s company. It’s like a movie or video game escape, only when it dawns on you that it is no longer real, it hurts a lot. I still miss her. Did you all experience a loss in a similar fashion?