Loss can take many forms and some loss is more devastating than others.
When our spouse tells us that they want a divorce, when a close friend or family member dies, when we get laid off from a job or when we become disabled by illness or injury, or when there is tragedy in our community—our lives can be sent into a tailspin.
Loss forces us to face several psychological challenges, but by incorporating the arts into our lives, these new challenges can be used as a tool for gaining momentum in the healing process.
As we reconstruct our identity to match our new circumstances, we must at the same time be adjusting our belief systems. As human beings we naturally try to make sense of our experiences in life. Some of us articulate it more clearly than others do, but we each have our own way of understanding how the world works, a unique set of beliefs and assumptions that form the lens through which we view the world and our individual place in it. Loss and grief can challenge these basic assumptions and make us question everything that we thought we knew. We are flooded with doubts and questions; often the simplest question is simply—why? It is our challenge to find ways of making sense of what happened and adjusting our belief systems accordingly.
To grow, we have to find within ourselves a way to ascribe meaning to the events and discover a new purpose to steer us into our new existence. A helpful exercise for redefining our belief systems is to take a piece of paper and write down everything that we thought that we knew, and all the beliefs that we held on to. Once you have scribed all of these beliefs and assumptions onto the paper, paint over them. Once the paint dries, inscribe your new beliefs and your new perspectives over top of the old ones.
Recovering from grief and loss takes time but the best way to treat our psychological injuries is to take on these challenges at our own pace, confronting and overcoming them one by one.