Understanding loss and grief

Today we will explore the ever present, ever elusive, Developmental Loss. Why does it even need to be recognized? It is everywhere. It is always happening. And like most losses, we have no power to stop it. Now that sounds like you should stop reading, but don’t. Remember that understanding loss is the key to survival and beyond.

Developmental Loss defines itself by exclaiming that there can be no change or growth without loss. From conception to death, even birth itself is the epitome of loss. The child has the instinct to live and gives up the warm, safe, all providing womb for life. The infant loses the breast; the child goes to kindergarten; we move up grades, constantly moving from the top of primary to the bottom of secondary, etc. through college to the work place. All these years we must relinquish immediate gratification in exchange for future gains. During those years we will move geographically, losing neighbors, friendships, lifestyle and familiar surroundings. Even marriage requires experiencing loss to make room in our lives for a spouse and perhaps children. Even retirement is a loss. Give up that daily grind for a golf course. During this stage of adult life we may face the beginning of losses that we view as negative, such as loss of a job, broken marriages, reduction of economic standings and loss of health, realizing that those once yearned for goals, like becoming a movie star or a prominent physician, are no longer on the horizon.

Weren’t we just in the prime of our life? Many of us fear loss, forgetting just how much experience we have already had with that change agent. As we start experiencing those birthdays that come with cartoons of wrinkled people, we also seem to be less secure than we once were. We lose our hearing and site acuity, maybe even hair. The people that we greet at our high school reunions have changed. Those broad shouldered football stars seem to be carrying the basketball right in their midsection. The cheerleaders look tired, the marching band—march? We do well to hug to the music on the dance floor. Even the number of old friends has declined through disabilities or even death. For many, the most powerful fear is the fear of death. This fear of misfortune is seen in the tendency we have to shun the bereaved, (widowed or divorced), as if their fate were catching. Few people realize how helpful it can be, just to identify the experience as a loss. We need to look beyond the grief set off by these losses to understand fully the hidden values in loss. Sharing your loss with others promotes the healing that gives us the courage to invest in tomorrow. The SaddleBrooke Bereavement Support Group is a free service provided by SaddleBrooke Health and Wellness. This is a drop in group where our sharing is confidential. It is not necessary to register or feel pressure to return. The group meets every Sunday from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. in the Coyote Room South in HOA 1 Clubhouse. For questions call Dolores at  825-8980.