Our first loss is when we are left alone as a child. Our existence diminishes when our parent or carer is gone.

A loss is like a partial death where a bit of us has vanished or doesn't work any more. There is an empty gap and uncertainty.

It is not until someone or something is gone that we fully realize their importance. Feelings shows us how important. People and things in our lives are important because of our feelings towards them. A loss throws familiar feelings into turmoil. Some feelings are lost and new ones appear.

A loss throws familiar routines into turmoil.

We are hard-wired to be alert in response to change. Enough change raises stress levels. A sudden or traumatic loss can leave shock, disbelief, rage, guilt or terror. Multiple or important losses can produce self-doubt or fear of abandonment.

Some losses keep hurting. Some are hard to talk about. If we stifle our feelings of grief the grieving process may be put on hold. We may fixate at the time of a loss and not progress emotionally past that point. It may become hard to trust the world and oneself.

Reminders are everywhere in people, places and objects. Past memories are re-evluated whenever they resurface. Neurons are rewired

A loss may remind us of previous losses that had been forgotten or not fully realised.

With any loss there are changes of role and status. The loss of a partner may lead to taking over some of the emotional and other roles of the partner or resuming roles lost at the beginning of the relationship.

The loss of physical or mental capacity requires learning new ways to do things.

We cannot begin to grieve until we can experience the enormity and the implications of the loss and the feelings of loss. Then we can put them into a wider perspective and begin to separate what we have lost from the terrible feelings evoked.

Examining a history of losses might be a starting point A list of losses could include deaths, changes of school or residence, divorce, separation, illness, traumatic events, loss of a job, role, status, childhood, youth, wealth, freedom or innocence. Or loss of control of oneself during periods of addictive or compulsive activity.

Facing up to pain that has been suppressed releases blocked positive feelings and memories that can at last be experienced and appreciated.

When anger, grief, panic and hopelessness subside we can move on to make the best of what we have left. It becomes possible to evaluate the gaps left by the loss and find out how to use them. We can often then achieve more with less.

The duration of grieving is different for each person. When we have finished we may be enhanced to deal with future losses and help others.

Even positive changes like the loss of an abuser can be stressing, unexpected and bewildering.

The ideas on the stress and trauma pages help relax. The awareness therapy pages show how to work through experiences or help others.