Life is full of many different experiences and we manage them as best we can. The joys, fun and laughter are part of life as are many challenges and losses along the way.
There are many different types of loss we experience during our lifetime, for example:
- Loss of the very close bond between parent and child when they start school
- Loss when children become adults and move away from home
- Loss when circumstances change in employment and relationships
- Loss of strength and deteriorating health leading to loss of independence.
During this process we are constantly learning how to deal with these losses and this involves many emotions from disbelief to anger to sadness and eventually to accepting that change has occurred. We are able, then, to move on to the next stage of our lives.
People can handle even the same type of change differently. For example, one whose eyesight is failing may quickly move on to getting talking books, learning braille and stopping driving and another in the same situation maybe in a state of denial for a period of time and/or be angry and frustrated before accepting the new reality.
These variations in coping skills can confuse the family and loved ones of the people going through the loss because acceptance is much easier for those observing the changes than those who are experiencing the changes.
If your father was told he cannot drive anymore it is much easier for you to accept that and for you to go ahead and make the appropriate changes than for your father to accept that these changes are necessary immediately.
The person experiencing the loss in this example, your father, needs to process his emotions and the most helpful thing you can do is to allow those emotions to be expressed freely by listening.
It is very difficult watching your loved one struggling to come to terms with these losses.
It would be helpful firstly to understand that there will be denial, anger, lots of 'if only’s' and sadness before acceptance. Secondly it would be helpful to get some support for your own frustration and sadness with what is happening around you. This will enable you to be more patient and understanding.
Care for Family offers support individually or in groups for the carers of their loved ones who feel it would be helpful.
By our Care for Family psychologist, Susie Danos.
Throughout 2017, Susie will periodically discuss other issues pertaining to emotional struggles.