Shared below are stories based on accounts from loss survivors who, with the support from their friends, family and doctors, have reclaimed their space that was disrupted or taken away when the loss event occurred.
Reclaiming my neighbourhood
“Before the loss event, I actively participated in many social activities which included team sports, going to church, attending family celebrations and using common social media sites to chat with my friends.
After the loss event, I quickly withdrew from most of my social activities and decreased the number of friends I included on my social media site.
The reason I did this was because I lost trust in people; even my closest friends and family. I also lost trust in my space. My happy, social space no longer existed. I had let the loss event steal my space.
After many months of loneliness, I realised that I needed to reclaim my space. It was difficult to know where to start and so I asked for help from my doctor.”
Reclaiming my workspace
“After many months off work, it was now time to return to my workplace. The loss event was still clear in my mind and I was feeling very anxious in having to return.
I was not exactly sure of the causes of my anxiety because my mind was flicking between the loss event, the people involved, my professional image, my duties, changes that had happened in the workplace since I had left and many other images. Leading up to my date of return, I had many sleepless nights because my mind was replaying all events leading up to my departure; I realised that I needed to see my doctor to help me become calm.
In speaking with my doctor about my anxieties, we discussed at length why I was feeling this way and what triggered the images in my mind. The discussion was extremely useful for me to understand why, for after so long, I still had raw loss feelings about some images.”
Reclaiming that extra hour a day
“I go to bed exhausted and I wake up exhausted. Ever since the loss event, I am now on my own and need to manage the family and have no time for myself anymore.
I realised I had to change something when my young teenager asked me why I was so stressed all the time.
It was a moment when I could have let this young man know all of my worries or I could have just said “it’s because I’m a busy parent now!” and quickly change the subject. At the time, I chose the second answer and as I said it, I knew I was being dishonest to both my son and myself. How could I change this situation that had become my family’s reality?”
Reclaiming my faith
“Weak from the loss event and the painful months that followed, I was completely lost.
I had extinguished all social contact; I hid in my house and would peek out the window at noises that came a little too close to my driveway; I knew that I was overwhelmed with my loss feelings however I refused all help that was offered and dreaded seeing a doctor.
I had no energy to restrict further fear into my mind and so I drank whatever alcohol was available to try and wipe out the memories or I just drank to the thought of giving up any hope of a better outlook.
It was incredible how quickly I had let myself diminish into a deep depression of self pity, blame of others and hatred towards those people that were happy in their lives.
One day, when there was no food in the house and I needed to go to the shops to buy more, I passed the local church on my way and it was full with people; I wondered if it was a special mass. I was born into a family of faith and as a child, I was made to attend church, but as an adult, I had let that personal commitment go. I quickly dismissed the memory and hurried towards the shops.
On my way back, the church was still full and I stared in at the people; I wondered what ‘God’ they believed in because the ‘God’ I believed in left me when I needed him the most; and now I feel my loneliest and have no-one in my life.
Then, I suddenly felt the urge to challenge this ‘God’. I entered the church and sat with the parishioners.
Replace my space
It had been some time since the loss event and I had worked hard to find ways to manage my loss feelings when triggered; however I could never find a way to revisit the place where the loss event occurred.
I don’t know if I wanted to revisit this place but I did want to know if I could and how I would feel being there again.
With the support from my doctor, I asked for some tips on how to keep calm when at the place. She suggested that I go with a trusted friend who will understand my loss and assist me if I needed to leave the place straight away. She also suggested that I self-talk and repeat a comforting phrase like a mantra as I’m approaching the place, when I’m there and as I’m leaving.