Many couples go through everyday life with a smiling face while deep inside they are experiencing the pain of loss. The impact of loss can deprive individuals and relationships of vitality, joy and spontaneity. Some individuals cope by initially blocking out what is going on for them but loss invariably revisits individuals and relationships at a later time. Loss has many faces, all of which can affect people’s sense of self and the quality of their relationship. Perhaps your experience of loss has been the agonizing and devastating loss of a loved one which has caused your world to almost shut down?
There are many manifestations of loss, perhaps even some that you were unaware of and carried into relationship with you? Perhaps your experience of loss stems from childhood; maybe it is a loss of confidence and self-esteem; perhaps it’s a loss of opportunity in career in not getting the college points you required to study the subject you always wanted; perhaps it’s the loss of mobility through illness or accident? Maybe your awareness of loss comes from within your relationship; perhaps you and your partner are now experiencing the loss of financial independence caused by the economic crash; perhaps it is the loss of a pregnancy or a child; perhaps it is the loss of the carefree lifestyle and time together that you enjoyed before settling down, following the arrival of a new baby ; maybe your partner enjoys the social life of an unattached person while you sit at home suffering the loss of companionship and intimacy; perhaps you are living away from your country of birth and experiencing the loss of family, culture and friends; perhaps you’re conscious of ageing and you’re grieving for your lost youth; perhaps your children have left home and you’re feeling their loss deeply?
Perhaps your experience of loss is so profound that you cannot share itwith your partner; maybe you’re too frightened to share it; perhaps you have repeatedly attempted to share it and your partner has dismissed your feelings by telling you to get over it. Unless acknowledged, explored, understood and accepted loss has the potential to damage the fabric of relationships.
Coping with loss can be one of the most traumatic events in couples’lives. Equally when the storm cloud of loss has passed couples can feel able to live life with a newfound vitality and a renewed faith in life and in one another. A loss experienced effects the relationship, so it can be helpful for couples to sit down and share what’s happening for each other and their relationship by going back to the moment of loss and exploring the impact on their world. The duration of loss can be lengthy for many individuals and couples but if they can explore their sources of coping; identify their losses; identify what they connected with to give them courage; they can work through the pain of loss. Surviving loss can be a very valuable experience for couples as they adjust their lives to a changed world. Though loss is rarely welcome in life or within relationships, surviving loss is for many couples an experience that can lead to more meaningful and enriched living and relationships.
Discuss with your partner the losses that you have both experienced in your life. Take time to reflect on any hidden losses. Discuss how they have impacted on you and on your relationship. If your experience of loss within relationship has been limited, reflect on any fears you have about potential losses and on how the experience of loss might affect you and how you feel you might deal with it.
If you are encountering problems in your relationship or if you would like to explore unresolved relationship issues, and would like to speak to somebody on a confidential basis, you might like to speak to ACCORD Catholic Marriage Care Counselling Service.
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