Blog 105. Endings And Grief: How Do You Cope When Things End Or When You Have to Say Goodbye?
We often associate endings with grief or even with death, forgetting that we deal with endings all the time. We begin our day and we end our day, we start things and we end things, we go to meetings and they end, we go to work and at the end of the day we go home, we see friends and then they leave, and so on.
Within everything we do – there is a birth, a life and a death, a beginning or a start and then there is an end. Human beings are however, more inclined to concentrate less on the endings and more on the daily stuff of getting things done. Consequently, we prefer not to ponder over particular negative endings or what they might mean to us. And sometimes there is a reason for this – a reason beyond wanting to just concentrate on today or the positive.
In some cases, people struggle to deal with endings due to earlier losses or abandonment.
How each person has learned to manage or deal with these difficult or painful situations, often has an impact on how they cope with future endings or indeed goodbyes – with regards relationships, friends or projects. And no matter how trivial, any type of ending could trigger earlier memories – and how this is dealt with, will of course vary from person to person:
- Some people try to control an emotionally negative and imminent situation so as not to get hurt. Usually this means that they’ll try to mentally or physically escape the minute they feel or sense an ending. And they’ll normally be the first to try to walk away from a relationship, or project and so on.
- Others may just try to ignore an ending by ‘burying their heads in the sand’.
- However, many do try to confront any loss experienced, and so on. And sadly, sometimes this is not always effective.
But no one really gets taught how to deal with loss, and therefore most people just bungle their way hoping time will relieve them of their loss. Consequently, everyone somehow tries to find their own coping mechanisms, forgetting that often they emerge when we’re not looking and that they often don’t emerge in ways we expect them to.
But also, how some endings are handled, isn’t always fully understood by everyone. Sometimes how people behave can be misconstrued or misunderstood and seen as rudeness, coldness or even bad manners.
Trying to deal with someone who is unable to confront issues, who runs away and buries their head in the sand, or who makes sure they walk away first, can be very annoying for those around them.
Sadly, instead of expressing vulnerability or fear, or instead of communicating and working through what they feel, they can land up pushing people away. And what they fear most ie loss or abandonment – is often what they land up recreating.
This is why it is so important to realise that our actions can have an impact on others – and sometimes the impact we create – may not be what we actually want to achieve. This is why it is important that we also become aware of how we deal emotionally with endings or loss during every day events – and that sometimes we may impact not only our own lives, but those of others too.
It is also important to keep in mind the 5 stages of grief which Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, the Swiss-American Psychiatrist explained in her book called, “On Death and Dying”. These 5 stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And although the 5 stages refer particularly to death and bereavement, they can also be used in most circumstances when things come to an end – when we we have to say goodbye, or when a project comes to an end and so on. When we emotionally employ, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance to evade an ending. Remembering of course that these feelings are not always felt in this order, or maybe not all of the emotions are even required, depending on each situation, or when we find ourselves walking away too soon or never finishing anything – so that we land up postponing what is really inevitable.
But sometimes if endings are too hard to bear, try to share it with a friend or a member of your family. And if this remains difficult, try to find either a support group or a therapist in whom to confide in – but do not try to deal with endings all on your own. Endings often trigger issues from the past and they could be seen as little alert buttons reminding us all that there is something we still need to deal with before we can move on. And consequently, this may require the help of a professional.
Loss therefore comes in all sorts of forms. And it often emerges in little things like endings – everyday endings. Don’t ignore it. Watch it. And deal with it accordingly.
© 2018 Deidré Wallace All rights reserved.
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