When someone close to you dies, a hole is left where a relationship used to be. Because of his or her death, there are things that will not get done unless they are reassigned to someone else. Your relationship with your loved one is gone, but so also might be the friends you used to spend time with because things have changed – in you, in them, in general – since your life-altering personal tragedy. Life looks different now because when your loved one left, so did the roles and relationships you once knew.
The first secondary losses following any primary loss, are the ones relating to lifestyle and everyday realities. These losses concern routines, location, occupation, social interactions, daily items… and the list goes on.
When a loved one dies, you experience the primary loss of that person and all he or she meant to you. Secondary losses are the rest of the weight of a life without that person in your life. They are the rest of the equation – the things that you no longer have because the person with whom they were associated is gone. Secondary losses are not secondary because they are less significant, but rather because they are a result of the primary loss.
I’ve heard it said that every person is either going into a storm, in the middle of one, or on their way out of one. Grief is one of those storms. It crashes into our lives after the loss of beloved people or things, and it doesn’t behave in any clearly understandable way. Just as every person is different, everyone experiences grief uniquely. Because of that, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule book. Here are some things I’ve been learning through my own tumultuous journey with loss and grief.