Updated: Mar 14, 2020
One of the most common questions I get from clients is"how do I get over a loss?" Often this question is about losses such as the death of a loved one or the end of an important connection (friend, co-worker, or romantic relationship). What clients are asking me in this question is how to move on from lingering bad feelings, unfinished emotions or from the feeling of being stuck in a sadness or devastation.
Bad feelings do not sort of just run their course. Mourning is not determined by the last time a client healed after the last loss or breakup. Healing a devastation, a loss or a betrayal is not going to be as simple as sleeping off a bad hangover. For some people this process is really frozen in time. Moving on requires the desire to heal and the courage to walk through the pain.
When clients start to articulate what they really need in sessions, they start to create a contradiction in themselves. They begin to create the sense of: "I need to feel cared for, valued, understood. And I can feel it in my bones." This is where change starts.
Studies show that people who get over losses or move on in a healthy way often go through three universal patterns that happen in a sequence of steps. One: you are upset from the loss or breakup and move between anger to sadness; Two: you are left bend out, wondering about your values, if you are lovable, and if you are good enough. You are most likely moving between doubting yourself to blaming yourself; and Three: you go back to how the relationship ended, you move between anger and grief.
The job of a therapist is to help you move along these steps without get stuck in any of the stages. Grieving is not just about sadness but finishing the lingering emotions that came with the loss. It is moving a client to a healthy emotion. Grieving is about undeclared losses as well as expressing healthy needs.