The loses we are seeing or experiencing in New Zealand at the moment are massive. So how do we cope with loss? Especially when we don’t feel like coping.
Our hearts go out to the families who have lost homes, businesses and loved ones. Many still don’t even have the basics of life – like water and power. The road ahead looks endless and utterly overwhelming.
We need to remember that with people, just like with nature, we are more resilient than sometimes we imagine. Think of the flower poking through the concrete. People and towns will recover. Napier knows this far better than most after their earthquake in 1931. It arose from the rubble and flourished.
When loss happens there are stages of grief we go through. Usually in this order: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance. Understanding this process helps us understand how we process loss.
It is also easy for people to get stuck in a stage – anger or depression – without ever moving forward. You don’t want that. If you feel that you are stuck, get help – because you and your life are important.
The truth is that coping with loss is part of life. It is something all people face in some degree. The death of a spouse or child can be life-shattering. And there is no escaping that reality for some of us.
The question that remains is how do we cope? Perhaps the greatest way to cope is to not lose hope. Hold onto hope like your life depended on it, because in some cases it might.
Even though the recovery may be long and the end unseen, even though the loss may be irreversible, there is always hope to be found. It may just be a flicker of light in the darkest cave, but even the smallest spark can become a blaze or at least a flame.
We are fortunate that we live in a country that responds to crises. The response from around the country is encouraging. And although in the weeks and months to come things might change – the Kiwi Spirit is something in which we can be proud.
When loses are great and you are looking at a ruined home, a tsunami of silt all around you – it will not be like this forever. Home will be rebuilt, land restored and the memories of those lost will not be forgotten.
Take one day at a time – one hour at a time. Talk. It is so important not to keep your pain inside. And little by little, as the days come and go and the small victories become bigger you can look back and say you didn’t just survive – you triumphed.