Grief and depression from the loss of a loved are often linked to the loss of a sense of identity. While grieving from losing a significant other or someone in your immediate family is to be expected, there are actually further repercussions in the grief journey that most of our clients at the Grief Recovery Center do not expect. It is identified as a secondary level of grief and depression where there is confusion over who you are now that your loved one has passed on.
When you think of identity, you think of roles that you have had for a lifetime such as a mother, a father, a sibling, and a spouse. As you process your grief, you are taken on a journey to realize potential new roles in your lives and the loss of previous positions. These changes can intensify the grieving process and cause you to question your existence in the world. In fact, research has shown that the conflicts of your identity can cause you to be more vulnerable to depression.
Our grief and depression specialists at the Grief Recovery Center know precisely what it looks like to have to cope with identity changes and losses. We know that it is difficult enough to have to deal with the loss of someone close to you; now you brace yourself for managing the grief and depression from the loss of your past identities. Here are some of the top identity losses to be aware of as we reform and reshape our role in this world after the loss of a loved one.
Loss of Identity in Familial Relationships
One of the biggest struggles for your grief and depression journey is the unexpected loss of a relationship. The loss of your identity as a father, a mother, a husband, or a wife can be a traumatic experience that can further your bereavement process. The feeling of loss can catch you off guard as you navigate new roles that are thrown at your because of losing that family member. For example, you may find yourself taking over both the parts of a father and a mother if you lose your spouse. Or, you may have to become a primary caretaker for your aging father after your mother passes away. This different relational sense of self can have you questioning whether you can fulfill new roles and who you indeed are in your network and community.
Read: Self-Care When Grieving
Your grief and depression counselors can help you identify and learn to cope and embrace new roles in your life. The journey will not be smooth sailing, nor is it predictable enough for you to plan for, but you can rest assured that the process of recovery will be supported. Your healing process will be filled with triumphs through the guidance of an expert in dealing with loss.
Loss of Identity in Professional Roles
Another facet of the loss of your identity during the bereavement process can be seen in a professional setting as well. Perhaps you had to put a stop to your education or quit your job to take care of your family, or you are retiring; these changes can be detrimental to your mental health and cause you to have grief and depression over the loss of your professional roles. Our professional identity is a huge part of who we are because our knowledge, skills, and expertise are tied to what we do, whether we are a lawyer or a nurse. Our grief and depression experts will help you adjust to and create new habits, restructure a new social network, and find a new sense of purpose after your loss.
Loss of Identity in Faith and Outlook
For many people, their faith and their perceptions about their future are the cornerstones of who they are as individuals in society. Sometimes, however, this outlook about life and spiritual faith can shift or disappear due to a significant life event, such as the death of a loved one. After the loss, your once positive perspective or your spiritual beliefs can come into crisis as you begin to question the beliefs you once held. The grief and depression you may experience due to this lost sense of self as a spiritual person are also impacted by the loss of the community you were once a part of, which can lead you to become more pessimistic, cynical, and isolated overall.
You may have ideas and plans about what your future may hold, but at some point, that outlook can be disrupted. There will always be losses in your life that can alter the way you view your life, but that does not mean that there won’t be other great things to look forward to. Your purpose and outlook may change, but who you are and your identity can be integrated towards who you can become versus losing yourself completely. Our grief and depression therapists are trained to help you grieve without having to shut out your past, it is about growth and learning to be grateful for what you still have regardless of your loss.
What is the Next Step in Recovering from the Grief and Depression Caused by the Loss of Your Identity?
There are no easy answers, nor is there a blueprint for recovering from the grief and depression you experience caused by a loss of your identity when a loved one passes on. The first thing to embrace is that perhaps your roles in your family, community, and profession may have shifted. It may not be exactly as you had it before your loss, but it is vital to be optimistic about the new role and new identity you may take on moving forward. By seeking and accepting new responsibilities you have, you may find that your new roles can bring you more joy and fulfillment than it may have before.
Your next step is to realize and accept this new chapter as you begin the journey towards recovering. If you have been finding it challenging to move forward, you can contact our therapists in Houston at the Grief Recovery Center for more info today.