Taking the First Step

Denial, the first step on the long journey of loss. Loss does not necessarily need to be someone. It can be something or a significant change in everyday life. Many of us are beginning to experience losses that are affecting our day to day life. For some, it is the uncertainty of passing from one milestone in life to another, as is the case of those High School Seniors who may not have their last class, their graduation, their prom. College Seniors will be thrust into a world where the economy is uncertain. For some, it will be the loss of all losses, that of a loved one. The grief and pain of the events or canceled events will have similarities and differences, but one thing that will remain, it will take us on a journey through the cycle of grief.

The stage of denial is a protective one. It is not the denial in the sense of not understanding that prom will not be happening or the loss of a job or that last conversation with a loved one is, in fact, the final conversation. Your mind may play tricks on you, where you wake thinking life is unchanged only to realize that it is precisely the same as it was the day before or possibly worse. No one loss should be minimized as all are important to the person experiencing them.

Denial will present itself in many ways. It may be the obsessive planning for an event that you wholeheartedly believe will never occur. It may be the repeated verbalization of doubt in the current situation. It may be the momentary thought you will be late for work only to quickly realize there is nowhere to go. It may be a time you reflect on past times and successes at the apparent disregard of the current challenges and future hope. It is the first step of many to come.

Experts warn that not everyone will move through each step in a linear fashion, some will not experience all, and some will become stuck on one. The key is identifying each, acknowledging where you are in the process, and looking for ways to move forward.

Be honest with yourself. There will be days that are more difficult than others, but with the acknowledgment that something has changed is the recognition that you are ready to accept and move forward. You do have choices as to how you proceed.

One way of dealing with denial is acceptance of the situation as being temporary and the coming to terms that life may not continue as it did. The loss is of significance and will carry a lifetime memory.

Substitute sadness of the loss with a focus on what you did have, what you can do, what impact you can have, and begin mapping the way to the future. As soon as you start to think of ways forward while being mindful of your past, you can move ever closer to the acceptance and the hope we all desire in times of loss and change.


Raissa Urdiales
Raissa Urdiales
Raissa lived most of her life along the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. She currently lives in the quiet city of Tega Cay, South Carolina, just across the border from the very active art community of Charlotte, North Carolina. Raissa has not always considered herself as an artist. She spent a great portion of her adult life staring into computer screens and managing computer system implementations and upgrades in the traditional corporate setting. It was through a chance paint night that she discovered her passion for painting. On her 51st birthday, she treated herself to some acrylic paints and brushes and has not stopped painting since. She balances her passion for creating with her day job as a systems analyst. In the wee hours of the morning, you will find her painting before she immerses herself in the technology that is consuming the world today. Although Raissa does not have formal training in the arts she is very conscious of the benefits it has on the human psyche. She holds a Bachelor's of Science majoring in Psychology where she focused her studies on Organizational Psychology. Through her corporate career, she has learned how to strike a balance between that which provides monetary reward and that which fulfills us as humans. For her, this balance is obtained through painting, writing, and exercise. She is currently a member of the Guild of Charlotte Artists where she exhibits select pieces during the quarterly art shows in and around the Charlotte Metropolitan Area. She has also submitted and is featured regularly in the Light Space & Time online gallery. When she is not painting or working with computer systems, she is writing. She currently has a column with BIZCATALYST 360° named “Artful Being” where she writes on topics both in and out of her corporate life to help others gain balance on what it is to be human.

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  1. Nice message. Compliments.
    There are moments when the only true essence of what we feel seems to be enclosed in pain. And it is a normal reaction to adverse life events, bereavement, bankruptcy, major loss. It is the way we experience sadness, pain, loss. Faced with the experience of psychological pain, the mind leads us to wander through thoughts in search of a solution, but sometimes this is useless to change things, and could even make them worse.
    Wandering through our thoughts in search of solutions is normal but instead we must remember that the true solutions are those that produce actions. We must therefore strive to let go of thoughts and words and concentrate on our very small actions that we have never done, in the hope that something new will happen; accept the emotions we feel, anchoring ourselves in the present moment. Let’s ask ourselves what those emotions are telling us about what’s important to us, in our life, and let’s start acting in this direction, taking our suffering with us.
    It is not easy but we must take these first steps to learn to live with loss.

  2. In your article I feel a sense of what a few friends and I were discussing last night. In a way we are grieving what once was and fearful of what this means for the future. To ease the burden we have to focus on what we have instead of what we’ve lost and be thankful for what we can still do instead of what we cannot.