Loss is not just about death. It can refer to a wide range of changes or life events. This could be the loss of a relationship, friendship, job, property or your health.

The loss may leave you struggling to cope with uncertainty, change and the feeling of a lack of control of your situation.

You may feel a range of emotions, such as anger, shock, guilt and grief.

Our member Catherine Gallacher, a Glasgow-based counsellor, says: “Loss can leave you feeling fragile and as if your world has been completely uprooted. It may leave you questioning yourself.”

Therapy can help and support you through this difficult period of your life.

Catherine adds: “Counselling can give you an objective perspective and a safe space where you can say anything. It can you help to feel yourself again.”

How can loss affect your mental health?

Loss can have a profound impact on your life and your mental health and wellbeing in a variety of ways.

The feeling of uncertainty and lack of control can affect your thoughts, emotions and behaviour. This can sometimes cause difficulties in your day to day life.

Catherine adds: “Some of my clients who have been affected by loss have seen a marked increase in their stress levels, some have had panic episodes. Many have gone through a range of emotions.”

It can leave people feeling as if their lives are spiralling out of control.

Sometimes people turn to unhealthy behaviours, such as excessive drinking, to try to deal with their loss. This can cause further problems in their lives.

How to cope with loss

As experiencing a loss may make you feel that you don’t have control of your life, it can help to do things to make you feel more in control. This may help you to gain a sense of stability.

Catherine says: “As a counsellor I help people look at the ‘here and now’ and focus on what they can control, rather than what they can’t control.

“It’s good to break things down into small measurable pieces, rather than feel overwhelmed by your whole situation.”

Maintaining a routine and focusing on smaller goals can help give you a sense of purpose. 

Catherine recommends breathing exercises and meditation to help you focus on the present. Physical exercise and yoga can also help.

She also says writing things down – such as filling in a daily journal or making lists of pros and cons about your situation – can be useful.

“Writing down what is happening and what you feel can be a helpful reflective tool,” she says.

How can counselling help with loss?

Talking to a professional counsellor can help you understand your feelings about your situation and support you in how to overcome loss.

Counselling can help you find strategies or techniques that work for you.

“A counsellor is there for you and they listen to you. They don’t judge. It’s a safe, calm space,” says Catherine.

“You don’t have to protect your family from what you’re feeling. You can just be you. You can feel free.”

She adds: “Many people who have experienced a loss have so much going on in their lives. They are struggling to make sense of it all, they do not have that time to process or reflect on what is happening. Counselling gives you that.”

If you have any comments or would like to share your story, please email us at communications@bacp.co.uk

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