A story based on an account from a Loss Survivor.
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.
We practiced the following mantra:
“I have lost and I survived.
I am in a safe place now and with a safe person.
I am taking action to heal. I am courageous!”
This positive reinforcement, repeated over and over again, helped keep my mind focused on something other than the place that I was visiting.
The day I decided to revisit the place of the loss event, I took my trusted friend and I explained where we were going. He agreed to the plan and his role as my support person.
On the way there, my mind was racing with images of the loss event. I practiced my mantra and these thoughts eased away.
As I approached the place, I felt crowded by the general passersby and my hands were damp with a cold sweat. My friend sensed I was uncomfortable and offered for us to leave. I explained that I was OK and that I expected this type of feeling. I pressed on.
Entering the place where the loss event occurred, I was very uncomfortable. I dropped my gaze to the ground immediately and felt the pressure of my loss feelings build against my back and pull down on my shoulders like a heavy weight. I gritted my teeth, clenched my fists and squeezed my eyes shut. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.
It was probably only a few seconds, but to me it seemed a few minutes. Then I released my strained position and looked up at the ceiling; I repeated my mantra and realised I was safe now, I was with a safe person and I was taking action to heal. I did feel courageous and I knew I was courageous!
Then I took in the scene and it looked very different to what I remembered. I could see more detail in my surroundings. I smelled the air and listened to the background noise. This triggered images of the loss event and I again repeated my mantra to calm my feelings. I then realised that I had had enough and wanted to leave.
Over time, I ventured back to that place and every time, I practiced my mantra.
Then one day I decided that I didn’t want to go back there anymore. I felt that I wanted to move on and instead of reclaiming that space, I wanted to replace it with something new. So, that day, I decided that I did not need to go back there again and that decision was OK with me.