Living Beyond the Losses of Life: Hope and Healing in Recovery

Loss is a part of all our lives. At some time we will likely experience the death of a loved one, a shattered relationship or the debilitating effects of illness. How we cope with these significant tragedies is crucial in determining how we will survive, grow and eventually recover.  As the table below reveals, there are some actions we take that can be healthy, and other actions that can be ineffective and therefore keep us stuck in despair. While there is no one formula for personal loss recovery–no neat plan to overcome great sadness–there are a number of ways to regain hope, healing and a future with some light when we thought there was only darkness.

Types of Loss Issues:

  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Broken relationships
  • Illness
  • Loss of Job
  • “Empty Nest”
  • Financial
  • Health and Aging


Symptoms of Depression:

  • Lack of interest or enjoyment in normal activities
  • No hope for change
  • Feel sad often
  • Feel alone and isolated
  • Sleeping or eating more or less than usual
  • Physical pain
  • Restless, can’t concentrate
  • Feel like “ending it all”


Ineffective Coping Skills:

  • Ignore symptoms
  • Neglect health
  • “Victim” attitude
  • Stuck in the past
  • Exaggerated sense of guilt
  • Overwhelming anger
  • Destructive actions
  • Refusal of help
  • Addictions


Effective Coping Skills:

  • Able to grieve loss and the experience of normal emotions
  • Education about recovery for specific loss
  • Patient with self and others
  • Supportive relationships
  • Seeks professional help if needed
  • Self-care – exercise, rest, healthy diet
  • Journal to process thoughts
  • Take one day at a time


Recovery Process:

  • Acceptance of loss and able to develop a “new reality”
  • Can see healing as a process
  • Hopeful – Able to see some light after darkness
  • Proactive, responsible and using other resiliency skills
  • Re-engaged in activities
  • Can help others
  • Can deal with negative emotions, and utilize helpful resources
  • Value health – Commitment to personal growth (mental, physical, relational, spiritual)


The table also reveals that depression can be an outcome of unresolved grief or loss. Depression is an illness affecting the body, mind and emotions. It is not a character flaw or a personal weakness. Even at the point of total depression, there is still hope! You may feel you have sunk into a deep, dark place where no one cares and you don’t either. Depression can feel like you have a monster for a roommate and only it can do the talking. You may look up at it for a moment, then look back down, and not have the energy to do anything about it.  The cloudiness of gloom and hopelessness can be suffocating.

Depression is a complicated individual experience. Recovery is also a personal process. There are steps we can follow and positive actions we take, to move in the direction of healthy living. I encourage you to practice the suggestions mentioned above, or find your own healing solutions for surviving the losses you experience. Your life is valuable. You can reclaim your passions, your purpose, your relationships and your life.

We all need some help, support, and encouragement, and sometimes cannot make it on our own. Centerstone can help. For more information about the recovery process, and counseling opportunities in Middle Tennessee, contact Centerstone at (615) 460-4357. We can help you minimize the consequences of loss or crisis and maximize the recovery. Your new life can begin today!

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