I’ve started four different blogs this week. Each on different topics. I bogged down in each of them and couldn’t finish. Why? Perhaps it’s because Sunday morning just before 7 a.m., I was awakened by the gasping sound of my dying cat. I held him in my arms as he took his last breath.
I understand in the scheme of human life losing my cat is a small event. It, however, is a loss to me. Whether it’s loss of a family member, a loved one, a friend, a pet, breaking up with a significant other, divorce, loss of a job, or any other significant loss, each leaves a mark on your soul. I call these Soul Marks.
Everyone experiences Soul Marks during their lifetime. In this blog we are going to briefly discuss Soul Marks, how we can cope, possible first steps past the loss, and ideas forward.
How do you survive after a Soul Mark? Some people initially withdraw taking time alone. Most feel grief and sadness…overwhelming loss. It’s ok to feel these feelings. It’s also ok to be angry because you are forced to live with this Soul Mark.
Sometimes we think we cannot go on with this mark on our soul. The days seem dark and the nights long. For basic survival ideas check out my blog called Loss of a Parent at https://www.coachinglifetransition.com/blog/loss-of-a-parent. The ideas in Loss of a Parent are basic; they are simply to keep you functioning daily. Once you are stable and functioning, how do you start to live again? One thing is certain, life will never be as it was before the loss.
A Soul Mark changes a person forever. Once you have a deep loss, you must follow it with a rebuilding of self. When you are ready to rebuild, how do you start? First, start with Self-Compassion. With Self-Compassion you know that although your life was devastated by a Soul Mark, you are willing to have compassion towards your situation and yourself. It is then you are ready to move forward. Also, possibly at this time you realize you are neither “bad” nor “ugly”, and Soul Marks are just part of life.
What is Self-Compassion? I am going to quote the Self-Compassion expert, Kristin Neff, who points out the difference between self-esteem and Self-Compassion. “Self-esteem refers to our self-worth, perceived value, or how much we like ourselves…In contrast…self-compassion is not based on self-evaluation. People feel compassion for themselves because all human beings deserve compassion and understanding, not because they possess some particular set of traits…” Essentially, we are to be as kind to ourselves as we are to others, perhaps even be as kind to ourselves as we are to the person we are kindest to.
Even with Self-Compassion, and although you are working to rebuild your life, the pain and grief of a Soul Mark do not go away in a day, week or any specific time. At some point it may be important to decide to give your grief a specific focus so that it does not encompass your entire day.
One suggestion to give your grief focus is to make a small memorial to your loss (this could be 1 picture). Devote a specific time of the day to meditating, looking at the memorial, thinking about and mourning the loss. This mourning time can be no more than an hour a day. You can divide the time throughout your day as you see fit.
If it seems that it takes everything you have inside you not to think of the loss, it’s understandable, but set aside 4 times per day (morning, mid-day, dinner time, and bed time) 15-minute sessions that you agree you will stop all thought of the loss. During these designated times of the day each time you think of the loss you agree to immediately stop that thought. Day by day extend the time you agree not to think about the loss by a minute or two or five during each of your designated times. Do the best you can, and you will find yourself increasing time spent on other matters rather than mourning.
Whether you are generally religious or not, this time of loss may be an excellent time to visit with clergy to discuss your thoughts and feelings surrounding the Soul Mark. The clergy know Soul Marks and how to supply support and comfort to those suffering from them. Alternatively, or additionally, there are many good books written on coping with loss. I mention one in the linked blog, and there are many others. If you’re a reader, you might pick up one of the many available books to also help you start moving forward.
I know it is my go-to recommendation, but journaling the loss and recovery is very important. It is a place to pour out your feelings, emotions, and sadness. It is a place to re-read, review, and follow your progress forward through and past the Soul Mark.
Loss is very hard. It leaves a Soul Mark. Grief is normal. It never follows a specific timetable. If you feel you cannot get past the grief with the support you have available, then it’s time to consult someone. If you feel that depression and sadness are crippling your life, consider consulting a therapist. They are trained to assist anyone who feels they cannot handle their depression and sadness alone.
If the fact is you feel you need help and support in the transition to your new life, call a coach. A coach can help you find direction and rebuild your life. I specialize in transition and am available to help.
I wish for you that would never have to ever endure Soul Marks, but when you do, be kind to yourself.