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     Loss can take many different forms and no one can judge what constitutes a loss and the degree to which it is felt except ourselves – because it depends on the value we place on what is lost.

     Some commonly reported types of loss are: death, decline or loss of ability; divorce, separation or relationship breakup; loss of a job; change in health; loss of financial security; selling of a long standing family home; theft. There can also be a profound sense of psychological loss around change or when expectations fail such as fertility issues, struggles with mental health and more.

     Grief refers to the range of emotions that naturally occur when something of value is lost. Emotions such as sadness, anger, fear and guilt are commonly experienced in the grieving process and do not follow an systematic pattern. Grief is considered complicated grief when there are additional considerations added to grief such as traumatic reactions, isolation and other possible complications.

     Although there is no way to avoid grief, we know that support during grief is one of the key things that can help significantly. The temptation to avoid grief through substances or other forms of addiction, work or other distractions and the isolation that can occur when others do not know how to support a grieving person adequately delay healing and can increase the pain of a loss.

     Some things we know help in the process of grief are: allowing the person to experience grief and not turn away from it even when it’s hard; exploring the grieving person’s meaning around loss; exploring the impact of the loss and what life might look like in the aftermath of loss; actively supporting the grieving person and staying with them for the long haul; understanding that loss does not follow a prescribed path and helping the person be patient with where they are in the process.

     Grief and loss are some of the hardest experiences we face as human beings. Yet, having the courage to look deeply into our pain leads to healing and often leaves us with a deeper understanding of who we are and of the meaning and purpose of our lives.

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