Letting go of something important to you is never easy. I understand.
The experience of separation is called loss and bereavement – it’s a universal experience that all beings with emotions experience. You may have just lost someone to illness, separated from your spouse, or lost the hope for a specific dream. The feelings of grief that you are experiencing are normal.
Here are some steps to working through it from William Worden.
Move towards acceptance.
It’s so hard to lose a loved one, a dream, to get older, or to be diagnosed with an illness. The first step you can take is to work towards acceptance. This may take some time, and you may oscillate between denial and acceptance for a while, but creating ceremonial events that create closure will help you move towards acceptance. Examples include: making a funeral, writing a goodbye letter that you rip up, or making a ceremonial meal.
Get through the pain.
The only way to get rid of pain is to move through it. This is hard and requires you to consciously be aware of the discomfort, ride the wave of the emotion, and finally watch it pass. This isn’t easy, especially with significant losses – it may help to talk through the emotional pain with a good friend or therapist. Some of the pain may show up as anger or sadness, or go back and forth between the two. Unprocessed pain may lead to unresolved grief and depression so it’s best to go through it now then to repress it and let it simmer.
Give it time.
The real adjustment to life takes place in the following months, so take it easy. You must adjust your environment, expectations and lifestyle to live without the person or entity. If you were very reliant on a person who is now gone, you may also struggle with self-identity which can further prolong your adjustment. It’s a good idea to take inventory of the impact the loss will have on you so you know you are able to access the right amount of resources to adjust.
Learning to live without your loved one or past identity requires you to form a new identity and attachment to the old way of being. This is the hardest and longest stage of all. Be patient with yourself. You can still love and cherish what was and move on to new and other great things in your life.
If you are struggling with how to let go, be on alert for these signs – they may indicate that professional help is needed:
- Not having any feelings about a significant loss.
- Feeling excessive sadness, anger, guilt, helplessness.
- Feeling somatic discomforts (in your body).
- You can’t return to normal activities of daily living.
- Loss of self-esteem, feeling worthless and hopeless.
- Feeling suicidal, feeling like a burden and lethargic.
If you’re interested in professional support in learning how to let go, we encourage you to book a complimentary 30 minute intake call with our Care Manager.
Leah Weisberg, RN BScN BC-NC
Leah is a Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse, Psychotherapist and Founder & CEO at Dynamic Health Collaborative. She is passionate about providing mental health services that consider one’s mind, body and relationships. In addition to providing private emotion-focused psychotherapy services, Leah teaches mindfulness classes, leads a team of over a dozen practitioners at her clinic, and collaborates with organizations on creating awareness of emotional and mental health concerns. She can be reached by emailing [email protected]