“you can always have another one”
“be grateful, at least you still have…”
“It could be worse”
“you’ll get through it”
“God won’t put more on you, than you can bear”
“Just try and take care of yourself”
“It’s just hair”…
Although they mean well and your intuition tells you the same, you are still in denial as those responses still create emotional triggers for you when dealing with Ambiguous Loss. This is defined as a loss that occurs without closure or understanding. These types of losses do not have a formal burial or ceremony, ( depending on your job) you do not get bereavement leave or approved under FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) for it,
Ambiguous losses are for those persons grieving from certain things such as: infertility, miscarriages, watching a family member declining from Alzheimer’s or dementia, vocal or hearing loss, loss of hair, and etc.
Such losses are treated differently or have apathy towards this form of grieve, because in order to grieve, this means that someone had to die, right? Wrong. Although, a baby didn’t develop full term some still forget there still was a child. You were (scratch that) ARE a mother. Visibly you look okay, but your hearing is progressively getting worse so you grieve over what was valuable to you–communication. “How can you grieve for a person who is living?” are the questions in numerous articles in referencing how people can mourn over a loved one as they watch them physically deteriorate due to their illness. They called this Anticipatory grief. These type of losses are not to be taken lightly, they are hard to unfold and is complicated to heal from. It is a type of separation/loss that hinders a person from the detachment of their distorted thoughts or can form into anger, as it keeps this type of person aware of their past, present and the unknown; while simultaneously their emotional state yearns to break free from the hurt, the stress, and the loss.
People who have this form of grief tend to think on the past (the familiar) as they repeat in their head and reminisce of things they were able to to do before, who they were before and reminisce on the capabilities their loved one use to do before the illness. They begin to compare the past with the present condition and find themselves trying to make sense of it all. In tears of what was, what isn’t and what do we do now?
To begin the process of resiliency (to readily recover from illness, depression, or adversity), one must look to Reformation. Judith Viorst says in her book Necessary Losses , that we must become the ” Private -I”. She states “this ” I” is a declaration of consciousness of self- of some of the selves that we are or once were or might be. Our body and mind, our goals and roles, our lusts and limits, our feelings and capabilities”. Accepting that your grief is normal is okay. Just like any grief, there are stages and possible spurts of emotions that can come at anytime. There may not be an answer on why things are happening the way they are, why we have been dealt these set of cards we call loss or illness, yet there is still a personal accountability to begin to restructure your mindset of who you are despite the losses in your life. Allow yourself time to re-adjust to the new normal and take the time to enjoy the moments you do have with your loved one. Even if that means sitting in silence. Ambiguous loss brings out vulnerabilities that you never imagined. It is an uncomfortable stretching of oneself as you re-define what strength really means. Through it all, there is hope that that this too is temporal; even if the situation does not change, God is building your strength to endure through. One thing I know for sure, God will always take care of you.
photo credit:Rolling stone