When we lose a loved one, that loss will stay with us, in one way or another. I don’t believe that we ever “get over” the loss of someone who was deeply important to us, even though we hopefully find ways to reinvest in the present and find joy and meaning in our lives moving forward. The loss, and the relationship with our lost loved one, will become part of us and part of our life story. We carry it with us.
Over our lifetime we accumulate losses. Our fresh losses may reawaken feelings and pain from earlier losses. These cumulative losses can sometimes complicate our mourning process.
One possible example which comes to mind is the loss of one’s last surviving parent.
For some people, the surviving parent might have symbolized a bridge to the parent who died earlier, making us feel more connected. Or maybe, in our eyes, the surviving parent “held down the fort” of parenthood, allowing us to maintain our role and identity as someone’s child.
When our last parent dies, we might need to grieve not only for him or her, but also for the other parent, all over again.
Cumulative losses can be like a fresh injury which reactivates an old wound. Sometimes it can be hard to tell which one is causing the most pain, or to sort it out.
Hopefully we can be helped, at least a little bit, by an awareness of how cumulative losses can play out and impact us.
Please feel free to post comments or reactions.