Finding Your Way Through a Loss

I am thinking about ‘loss’ in its broadest terms, especially in a pandemic. Without judging the relative impacts on anyone, the most common image when thinking about a loss is the passing of a loved one.

I also include in the idea of loss, the loss of social options, the loss of freedom to think about worry-free topics most of the time, a loss of expected good health, a loss of control, a loss of regular rituals and traditions with others, and so on.

Personally, I’ve had an easier time than many, but I’ve still had things to cope with. Here are some thoughts that might help.

First, I try to be compassionate to myself. If I’m not in good shape mentally, it is that much harder to help others. This is probably one of the hardest things for me to do. It is not a natural act. I have to be conscious and aware of this mental feat. I think of it as constantly practicing to get better. I’m now successful more often than not, thank goodness.

Second, I try to move my body. A while back, I was in my recliner, relaxing, and I was scared. It was as if a blanket of depression just quickly settled all around me. After 30 minutes, I was immobile. I didn’t move for hours. I wasn’t paralyzed, but I didn’t want to move.  Terrifying.

Fortunately, my brain was still functioning but not nearly up to my usual standard. I knew this situation would not end well if I didn’t do something – doing nothing would not work.

I knew enough that movement – I wouldn’t call it even exercise, was a help to get whatever chemicals my body needed to ward off this eerie stillness.

I started to move parts of my body. Nothing too challenging; toes, fingers, eyes, foot, leg. Gradually I had moved most of my movable parts at least once.

I rolled over. I sat up.

My thinking was returning. I realized that I had spent most of my time indoors, yet I enjoyed going for walks and the many health aspects that provided. I needed to get back to walking outdoors and not to let weather, ice, wind, and TV steer me from accomplishing a significant increase in walking time.

I am fortunate that I could afford the fee to walk the indoor track at the local recreation centre. It was well worth a try and far cheaper than other forms of therapy. I would indulge myself the car ride to avoid the mental barrier of walking the 20 minutes to the track. Now, the weather was a non-issue.

The good news is that it worked very well, and I recovered quickly and emerging as a much humbler person and wiser.

This is my personal story. Take what is useful and leave the rest. Everyone is unique, and I don’t want to minimize anyone’s struggles. Head-work is always challenging.

Please give this a bit of a think. Identify a loss you’ve suffered this past year. What is the nature of the loss? What can you create to fill the void, recognizing it doesn’t erase the loss? It might give you a way to live with the loss

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please leave your comment.

Photo by Mojtaba Ravanbakhsh on Unsplash

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And my thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.

Volunteer Blogger

TheBlog@stalbertseniors.ca

10 thoughts on “Finding Your Way Through a Loss

  1. Patti Dolman says:

    Like you Glenn my life in the past two years has not been affected negatively. Yes, I’m disappointed that my social life has taken a slide back but my overall health is good and for that I’m grateful. The last hour was spent in a mindfulness course and it can’t be overstated how useful the small “mind” exercises were. My advice when the blues are setting in, get up , get going and get outside no matter what the weather. My latest challenge to myself was to contact an old acquaintance through a call or email . It’s nice to be thought of.

  2. Gail says:

    I haven’t been too affected by the pandemic. Mildly, yes. It was easy to fall into that rabbit hole way back when it first began. It was easy to slip into a depression. If you didn’t stay focused, follow a routine, get outdoors and stay connected with family and friends,it could creep on you. It’s not hard to see how people could lose control. People living alone and people living in long term care facilities. Imagine their lives. Not everyone has the resilience and good fortune to stay positive.

    I got outdoors and walked everywhere. I figured I’m not going to get Covid outdoors – no-one was outside! If I saw one walker in the park, I was taken aback.

    I made a conscious effort to cut out listening to news, unless it was something important. If there was a public address by the Premier or PM, I’d listen. I have a relatively new big screen TV and it’s never on. I mean it’s never turned on!
    Maybe this has something to do with it…

    Doomscrolling. Mirriam-Webster came up this word to describe a relatively new addictive behavior. It happens innocently enough. With the news about Covid in our face 24/7, we feel compelled to know numbers, deaths, recoveries, hospitalizations, world numbers, vaccination information and the list goes on and on. Before we know it, we’re sucked in to wanting/needing to know more. Guess that’s only human nature. We have to be in the know all the time to protect ourselves and our families. If you’re a social media type of person (which I’m not really), it can also consume you. It’s filled with a ton of doom and gloom stories and negative posts. There was and still is an apocalyptic feel to it, with some feel good stories thrown in too. But by and large, there’s a lot of negative stuff on TV. I also don’t trust it. So, that’s one of the biggies for me. I became selective with what I read, listened to and watched.. cause the news is plenty biased. Anything to sell a story.

    I decided I’d only listen to webinars, podcasts and an occasional lecture if the speaker resonated with me. Believe it or not, this helps me stay grounded. I watched almost every video on a funny talking dog named Pluto (you must watch it if you haven’t seen it). Pluto is a 13 old Schnauzer who became a hero on YouTube during the pandemic by giving useful tips on how to stay healthy, well and cheery during the pandemic. It’s hilarious. So a bit of humor goes a long way to put your mind at ease. I also found that setting a routine was important. Getting outside is super important. Even getting out of the city for a day or two helped make me feel alive. I drove up to Lake of Bays 2-3 times this year and it felt good.

    But getting back to feelings of loss and grief. I think that collectively we’re all grieving – if not for ourselves, for one another and for our planet. We’re grieving a loss of what our lives were before all of this began. We’re also on the edge – anticipating what is next and that adds to our anxiety and fear. How do we manage? What can we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones? I don’t know about you but that’s all I think about. Staying healthy. Managing with what we have and what’s within our control. The grief we’re all experiencing at some level is the undercurrent of our lives. It’s our “new normal” as I keep hearing.

    Experts keep saying that the pandemic has profoundly impacted our mental health & children’s mental health. I think that’s where we need to put our focus. How can we help those who are in crisis ’cause we’ll be okay. We survived this far in our lives and we have so much to be grateful for.

    This was a great topic Glenn. It’s something that’s on a lot of our minds and it’s nice to hear what people think about it..

  3. Mel says:

    Great topic for a blog given what has all transpired these past several years with the impact of Covid on our lives personally and as a society. When I think about loss during this period of time, probably one of the most difficult things for me is not having had the opportunity to visit a number of close relatives prior to their passing away. However, for me, believing my last visit with them wasn’t the last, helps me cope with this type of loss.

    • glenn says:

      Thanks. Missing rituals around the passing of loved ones is so hard.I’m glad you showed many of us how to avoid that. Developing new rituals is another. They don’t replace the old but add to them.

  4. Marilyn says:

    This blog is very timely as a dear friend and neighbour died suddenly this past week. This is a fate that awaits all of us and is not a pandemic issue. For his wife the grief is overwhelming at this time and your thoughts on loss give credence to my support for her. Thank you.

  5. Kathryn Walmsley says:

    This is such a great topic, Glenn, especially for seniors. We all pay lip service to appreciating good health, but it is only when you lose it or see someone close to you lose it that it becomes paramount. Coping with the loss of not being able to enjoy many of the simple things in life is a reality in my life because my husband has a debilitating disease. As well, I have noticed how myself and many of my friends are having to cope with the loss of vigour and strength that is a part of aging and chronic health problems. As has been said ” Old age is not for sissies.” I am struck by the resiliency that the people in my life show- getting pleasure out of the moments rather than looking ahead.

    • glenn says:

      Although I am in good health it isn’t what it used to be. My phrasing is much like yours – ‘Aging is not for the feint of heart’

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