Coping With Loss Or Grief

Coping With Loss or Grief

Transitions are times of intense struggle during which we tend to universalize our difficulty -  thinking all of the facets of our lives are troubled when, in fact, the root cause is attributable to a single event or circumstance.
 
We experience major mood and behavioral changes as a result of some life changing experience, event, or series of setbacks.  We tend to personalize the situation and think of ourselves as being uniquely emotionally challenged to cope with this situation, while in reality the experience is typically predictable, and ultimately, intellectually manageable.

As a change is forced upon us, we have a mechanism that comes to our aid during times of stress that we don’t even recognize we have within us.  In order to “cope” with the effects of a significant event, we take an “emotional detour” while we sort through what has happened to us and slowly rebuild for the future.

In spite of the fact that transitions are normal, they are disruptive and costly. 

All individual transitions start with endings.  Until we accept the new reality that traditional behaviors have ended, we are unable to begin new behaviors.

At home, a person can be hard to live with, making things more difficult than they already are.  We often portray ourselves as ‘victims’ to our loved ones further complicating matters. 

With career transitions we are apt to feel a sense of failure, frustration, and long periods of time during which our jobs seem to be spinning hopelessly out of control. The frustration is compounded by the lack of control over the circumstances.  As others who have influence in our lives act responsibly, we come face to face with the fact that we have put control of our careers in the hands of our other family members, vendors, lenders, or other owners.  We are caught up in the vortex of forced change.

Our productivity may be reduced by as much as 50% for 4-6 months while we are floundering around attempting to get on even keel again.

A transition is a predictable process made up of four distinct phases (see the illustration)
 


that must be fully completed in order for our lives to get back on track after the critical event occurs:

PHASE 1 -- PROTEST

PHASE 2 -- DESPAIR

PHASE 3 -- DISENGAGING

PHASE 4 – TAKING CHARGE

The illustration describes each of the four phases of a normal transition.  Experience teaches us not to skip over steps of a transition as it may result in a repeat of the cycle over and over.

The illustration is designed to be a self-management tool but can also be used to assist people that are important to us, once they are ready to accept help.

On the illustration, the descriptions inside the V represent feelings.  The descriptions outside of the illustration are behavioral.  This is a description of how we are apt to act on the feelings we have.

During our lives, it is predictable that sooner or later we will learn this lesson.  It is unavoidable. 

How we react and respond to the lesson is a choice!

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