Loss is something inherent to the human being. To understand the experience of loss, it is often useful to recognize its omnipresence in human life.
Throughout our existence we face a multitude of loss situations. Since childhood, when a child loses his favorite toy or his place as an only child. Just like in adolescence, when we lose our first love or our soul friend, and also in adulthood, when we lose a job, a partner, a role or give up a dream that we end up assuming unattainable. Growing up means losing, leaving behind. Each decision implies a resignation. Any change, even if it enriches us, also implies some loss… living, after all, is an accumulation of losses, but also of learning. In a way, we lose something with every step we make on the journey that life. We lose objects, places, moments, ideals, dreams, goals and, of course, we lose people we love. Although every loss is a duel, we could say that the death of a loved one is the loss of par excellence. It is in this type of loss, that we all experience throughout life, where the duel appears in all its splendor and manifests itself with all its rawness, so it will be in this type of duel that we will focus on the following lines .
What is the duel?
The term duel has its etymological origin in Latin, comes from the word “dolus” that literally meant “pain.” Thus, although it is, in principle, a normal adaptive reaction to the loss of a loved one, it is still one of the most painful experiences of life and a stressful vital event of the first magnitude that has been related to the appearance of various health problems (for example, bereavement has been associated with increased risk of depression, anxiety or alcohol and drug abuse).
Grief is a unique and unrepeatable, dynamic and changing process whose presentation varies between people, families, societies and cultures. For a long time, traditional theories about grief presented the mourners as victims, as passive subjects of an experience not chosen that they must overcome, but over which they have little or no control. This conception of grief presupposes that people who have suffered a loss can do little with their pain rather than wait for “time to heal their wounds.” Today, however, a different conception of grief is defended, giving an active role to the bereaved, who, to overcome the loss, will not only have to travel through the pain of absence, but will have to face a series of Challenges or tasks for proper dueling.
What should I consider if I have lost someone?
- First of all, it is necessary to know that each duel is unique, not all people live the dueling process the same, nor does the same person go through different duels in the same way.
- Grief is a process, a word that implies time. Each person needs a different amount of time, it is convenient to be patient and not try to accelerate it.
- Grief is not a disease, although it can share symptoms with other diagnostic categories, such as anxiety or depression. Symptoms such as choking sensation, lack of illusion, exhaustion, hypersomnia or insomnia or somatic symptoms stand out.
- It is convenient to accept and share the different feelings that arise in relation to the loss. To accept that our loved one is gone, we must talk, remember, share the pain and express the emotions that accompany it when we need it.
- It is important to try to keep the routine as much as possible. Life goes on and other people may need us. Performing activities that are satisfactory can help us cope with pain and can foster positive emotions.
- Take care of your health, sometimes pain can cause us to neglect food, exercise and good habits, impacting our quality of life and negatively influencing our mood, favoring the feeling of discomfort.
How can I support someone who has suffered a loss?
On many occasions, when a friend or relative loses a loved one, the tension of not knowing what to say or how to act invades us. Many times we try to “cheer up” that person with phrases like “don’t think about it anymore,” “you have to be strong,” “he/she would not want to see you cry,” despite his good intention, such comments are inadvisable, because it is not convenient to try to suppress the expression of feelings on the part of who suffers. On the contrary, the ideal is to open the doors to communication, expressing interest through questions that allow the other person to express themselves if they want “how are you today?”. It is advisable to substitute general offers of the type “call me if you need anything”, which tend to decline, for specific help and take the initiative to call the person. In addition, talking about our own losses and how we deal with them and adapt to them can be useful to the person and can help them feel understood and talk about their own process.
In short, there are few rules to help the person, it is about “being there”, being available, allowing him to share his experience and accompanying him in the transit of his loss.