Ahh, summer…. the camping, fishing, holiday plans, and family reunions. The excitement of driving the RV out of town, for the weekend, the week, or even the whole summer.  Blissful days of connection with community and connection with nature. You gotta love it!

“My kids want me to sell the RV. I know I should. It’s just we had planned so long for that road trip. Our trip across Canada was going to be our celebration for retirement. I just can’t bring myself to sell it yet. I don’t know why, I just can’t.”

“We always worked on the garden together. We both got so much satisfaction from it. Now that he is gone, it seems like work to me. There is no joy now, just hard work.”

“We always went to the lake with a group of friends camping. I don’t know if I’ll go this year. They are all couples. When my wife died, she left a hole in my life. I think going will just make that hole seem bigger. I don’t want to make my friends uncomfortable.”

“With my mom gone, we don’t get together as much. There was always a reason for a family dinner when she was alive. But now….. I don’t know, it just isn’t the same this summer. I miss those get togethers. She was the center and now that she’s gone, we seem to have drifted apart.”

These are just a few examples of Secondary Losses. The loss that happens because of the loss. It is like throwing a pebble in a pond. The splash that the pebble makes is the primary loss, the loss of a loved one, and the ripples that are created because of the pebble are the secondary losses. Understanding this helps us to see one more reason why grieving takes longer than we think it does. Paying attention to our own secondary losses helps us to validate our experience. We are not only grieving the person, we are grieving all that they are to us in every aspect of our lives.

Seasons changing will bring up secondary losses. If you can identify them for yourself consciously, you can allow yourself to grieve them. By acknowledging this for yourself, you will not struggle with the emotion that comes up for you. If you understand that this is part of your grieving experience, you can acknowledge the feeling.

Those ripples in the pond are on-going and far reaching. The loss of your loved one creates other losses. So when your well-meaning friends tell you to “get on with it” you can just smile and tell them that in fact, you are. You are grieving ALL of the losses as they show up for you.

This will take time …….

Denise Torgerson
Community Programs