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How Loss Impacts You At Different Stages Of Your Adult Life

Loss and grief are emotions that every human will experience at some point in their life. Experiencing loss is inevitable as humans make their way through life. The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult and harsh experiences in the world, and the pain and grief accompanying loss can be debilitating to those left behind.  Loss impacts every individual differently and there is no single solution to minimizing the pain that accompanies loss. However, it is important to know that you are not alone in these struggles. Grief and loss impact so many people and recognizing the validity of your personal emotions and pain is key to managing and accepting your own feelings. 

Death is a difficult topic to discuss in many societies. Loss never gets easier as you move through life. The grief and pain you feel after losing different people will alter and change, however loss is still challenging regardless of your age. It is very normal to experience more loss as you grow older.

As you make and build more relationships and people around your age, it is typical that you will experience more loss throughout your lifetime. Despite this fact, a loss is still painful and challenging as you grow older.

Loss and grief can impact many facets of your life quietly.  There is no true timetable for how long these emotions will impact the lives of those left behind. The sense of missing a loved one may never fade, but the ability to manage the pain associated with this loss is very possible. Grief and pain are emotions that can bring about feelings of loneliness and isolation after a loved one is no longer in your life. These emotions can leave you feeling desperate and agitated; it is important to remember that asking or seeking help is not a weakness but can assist in your healing process.

The Five Stages Of Grief & The Impacts Of Grief

In order to manage grief, it is important to fully understand the complexity of the emotion. Grief is a complex emotion that can prevent people from fully healing after the loss of a loved one. Grief is a very natural and normal emotion that humans experience after the loss of a loved one. There is nothing inherently wrong with the emotion, however, it is important to fully understand the emotion so that it does not prevent healing in the future.

There are five main stages of grief that are commonly discussed when it comes to the loss of a loved one. These five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Loss is different for every human being, and the impacts of grief can be felt for long periods of time after the loss of a loved one. Therefore, it is possible for people to experience some yet not all of the various stages of grief. The mourning and grieving process look different for every human being and the five stages of grief as outlined in this article and other literature are just basic guidelines that explain the complexity of the process. The stages illustrate that grief is an extremely deep and complex emotion that has countless layers to it. 

This means that the grieving process is different for every person, however, the emotions that you experience throughout the process are valid.

DENIAL

Denial is the process in which a person refuses to accept that they have lost a loved one. This is most often a shock response in relation to receiving tragic news. This is especially prevalent in instances where the loss of a loved one is unexpected.

In these scenarios, there is no time to mentally prepare for the loss of the loved one. Because of this unexpected nature, it is common for family and friends to deny the loss initially. 


ANGER

Anger is classified as the second stage of grief. Once the stage of denial has passed, it is common for family and friends to feel anger at the loss of a loved one. Depending on the nature of the loss, the anger may be directed at a variety of sources. However, the root of the anger stays the same. This feeling illustrates the anger that family and friends feel regarding the loss of a loved one.

This may manifest in anger at the world, anger at religion, or possibly anger at those that were potentially involved in the death of the loved one. Anger itself is a very strong and sometimes harsh emotion. However, it is important to remember that it is normal to feel anger after losing a loved one. 


BARGAINING

Bargaining is the third stage of grief.  This is the stage of grief where people begin to question the role that they may have played throughout the loss process. During the bargaining period, it is common for people to feel guilty about failing to carry out actions they believe may have prevented the loss or reduced suffering.

These are usually irrational beliefs that are founded on the sadness of the loss. It is sometimes easier to try to blame ourselves for tragedy than accept that loss is out of our control. The bargaining stage may also involve religion if family and friends make pleas in order to save their loved one or manage the loss they are experiencing. 


DEPRESSION

The fourth stage of grief is depression. This is often the most well-known stage in the grieving process. This stage is extremely challenging as the true weight of the loss usually settles in for the bereaved. This stage is where extreme sadness and pain are most common and serious.

Family and friends usually understand at this point that the loss is final and their loved one is no longer coming back. This realization leads to feelings of despair and loneliness. These feelings can lead people to lose interest in the outside world. This emotion can be extremely challenging to overcome and live with. 


ACCEPTANCE

The fifth and final stage of grief is acceptance. This is the stage of grief in which the family and friends of the loved one truly recognize and acknowledge the loss of the loved one. They begin to accept that their loved one is gone. It is important to note, however, that this stage does not imply that all sadness and depression from the loss is gone.

The loss of a loved one is a pain that stays with you for life. Acceptance does not mean that the pain associated with the loss is gone completely. This acceptance can allow you to live your daily life without soul-crushing pain, but there will always be some sadness when it comes to the loss of a loved one in your life. 


The impacts of grief are serious and long-lasting. The complexity of the emotion can leave many people feeling overwhelmed and lost. However, in order to manage grief in a way that can lead to healing and acceptance, it is important to acknowledge its various stages. There is no easy way to manage grief, however, accepting the emotions as they come and understanding that the healing process is different for each person can allow you to make progress toward living after the loss of a loved one or the death of a friend. 

Differences in Loss From Childhood to Adulthood

As mentioned previously, a loss is a very complex and multifaceted ordeal. The grieving process is different for each person. Similarly, it makes sense that experiencing loss in your adult life will differ significantly from dealing with loss in your childhood. 

Adults are usually better equipped to deal with and understand the loss of a loved one. With this emotional intelligence and experience, they can manage their emotions in a better way. Adults can recognize the complexity of loss and grief and therefore can better manage their emotions to heal after loss. 

Children on the other hand may struggle more with the ability to cope with feelings of loss. This can be seen when children or teenagers act out negative behavior after the loss of a loved one. In some instances, children may not know the best ways to express the emotions that they are experiencing. This may lead to outbreaks of negative behavior. Without the proper knowledge and development of healthy coping behaviors, children may struggle to deal with grief in the best way possible. It is, therefore, very important to promote and encourage healthy coping behaviors when working with children that are experiencing loss.

CHILDREN'S GRIEF

When experiencing grief, some children struggle to show or express any emotion. In a manner that can be tied to shock from the loss of a loved one, these kids may find it difficult to show emotive behaviors.

This may result in grief seeming intermittent or even absent at times as the children work through their emotions of grief. In contrast to the absence of emotion regarding loss, it is also possible that children may talk very openly about the loss. This can sometimes seem very abrupt or cold at times. 

ADULTHOOD GRIEF

Handling grief in adulthood is very different from the way that children handle grief. Rather than showcasing intermittent or absent expressions of grief, adults are generally continually aware and experiencing feelings of grief after the loss of a loved one. Adults are also less likely to share very openly about the experiences associated with the loss of a loved one.

Adults are generally more aware of outside opinions and preconceived ideas when it comes to loss and grief and therefore may be less straightforward than a child when it comes to discussing the topic. 

GRIEF SIMILARITIES BETWEEN CHILDREN AND ADULTS

Despite a variety of differences when it comes to the way that children and adults handle and experience grief, there are some similarities between the two age groups. When dealing with the death of a loved one, it is important that both children and adults get additional emotional support from those around them.

No individual should have to face loss alone and having a reliable support network is essential to healing after the loss of a loved one. 

It is also important that both children and adults have their grief acknowledged by those around them. In addition to acknowledging the grief, it is also important that their feelings and emotions are validated by those around them. No part of the loss is simple or easy and the complex and sometimes messy emotions that accompany it are all valid. Some people, both children, and adults may struggle with feeling as though their grief and sadness are valid. This means it is very important for those around them to acknowledge those difficult emotions in order to offer the best support possible through that difficult time. 

Throughout the grief process, both adults and children need to be able to express their grief openly. Many people, especially adults, struggle with expressing their emotions openly. Societal standards often encourage individuals to appear emotionally tough and embracing emotional vulnerability is discouraged at times.

However, losing a loved one takes an immense emotional toll on the family and friends involved. In order to properly heal and accept the loss, it is very important for grief to be expressed openly. Rather than constantly appearing strong and indifferent, emotional vulnerability needs to be embraced and grief needs to be experienced fully. 

How Does Loss Impact You At Different Stages In Your Life

GRIEF IN YOUR 20'S

Your 20s are a very formative time in your life. At this stage, most people are just entering their adult life, and the reality and expectations that are a part of this can be overwhelming at times. It is common for people to still be figuring out the direction of their life and uncertainty can be very prevalent during this time. Young people battle with new responsibilities and learn how to live independently for the first time. 

At this point, many people still maintain very close ties with their loved ones to gain additional support, strength, and advice. Because of these close ties that are still maintained, the loss of a loved one can seriously impact a person in their 20s. This period is already volatile as these individuals learn how to operate in a harsh world independently.

This time can be full of confusion and worry regarding careers and life paths. Therefore, the loss of a loved one during this time can have immense negative impacts on a young person’s life. This emotional strain can lead to a feeling of loss and confusion. 

Depending on personal situations and circumstances, the loss of a loved one in your 20s may mean that you will be unable to witness milestone moments. The realization that your loved one will not be able to celebrate college graduations, or the purchase of a first house can impact the mental health of those left behind. It is also possible that people in their 20s may not have much experience with death or the loss of a loved one. The loss may therefore come as a shock to young people and may heavily impact their emotional well-being. Mortality is rarely on the minds of young people in their 20s and the shock of losing a loved one can make this concept more apparent. 

Depending on your relationship with the individual that passed, their death may lead to increased responsibilities at home. For example, if a person in their 20s loses a parent, the young person may need to take care of younger siblings left at home or other family members. This can be an overwhelming task for many as it can place an immense amount of strain on a young person that is unprepared for this level of responsibility. The loss may impact family dynamics as well as create potential financial strain.


GRIEF IN YOUR 30'S

Generally, your 30s mark a stage in your life where you are more financially stable and have settled into a more standardized routine. Some individuals will have formed families of their own or will have developed successful careers. Homeownership and additional stability may be more prevalent in the life of a 30-year-old. 

It is because of this stability that it is believed that a 30-year-old may be able to handle the loss of a loved one better than an individual in their 20s. It is important to remember that this is an extreme generalization, and this might not be true for all individuals. Life experiences are highly variable for each individual and the ‘typical’ life experiences may differ for each person. 

It is possible that at this stage in your life, you have already lost someone. This may make the process of grieving slightly easier. Prior loss does not mean that you feel no pain when you experience loss again, however, it may allow you to better understand the grieving process. A better understanding of grief can lead to the development of better coping strategies and a gentler healing process. 

It is possible that this grief from the loss of a loved one may lead to feelings of isolation. Sometimes, your friends or other people in their 30s may have not yet experienced the loss of a loved one and that can lead to a potential disconnect in emotional understanding between friends. While some friends may not relate to or understand the grieving process at this time in their lives, it is helpful to communicate throughout the grieving process. 


GRIEF IN YOUR 40'S

Societal expectations for people in their 40s can overlap quite a bit with the generalized life expectations for individuals in their 30s. This is thought to be a time of stability in which people in their 40s take a more serious leadership role within their immediate and extended families. 

Because of this additional responsibility expectation, the loss of a loved one can take a significant toll on people in their 40s. These individuals may be required to take on a comforting role for other members of the family during this difficult time. Providing support and emotional care for others in the family can lead to burnout and exhaustion for a person in their 40s.

This can lead to confusion within grief. It can be confusing to have to support others while they grieve as you battle with your own personal grief simultaneously. 

Battling grief in your 40s can also lead to serious questions about your life path and life decisions. Many people become doubtful about whether they have made the best decisions regarding their careers and personal lives. The sudden loss of a loved one can also force individuals in their 40s to question their accomplishments. The death of a loved one can alter perspectives and create doubt regarding self-worth and past life decisions. Many people in their 40s begin to question their own mortality after the death of a loved one. 


GRIEF IN YOUR 50'S & BEYOND

Throughout your 50s and beyond, it is very likely that you have experienced the loss of a loved one already. This often means that these individuals have experienced grief in the past and this can lead to an important emotional awareness when it comes to navigating through the topics of death and grieving. However, experiencing sudden loss at an older age can still be emotionally devastating. 

The grieving process changes throughout the various stages of life, however, losing a loved one never gets easier. Older people grieve differently, and emotional awareness can help allow individuals to handle the loss in healthier ways. 

Despite previous losses making the grieving process more familiar, older adults can struggle with severe depression as they realize their own mortality is looming. This depression can become amplified after the continual loss of loved ones over time. Older adults are often tasked with caring for elderly or sick loved ones. This additional role of caretaker can often lead to exhaustion and severe sadness at the prospect of the death of the loved one that is receiving care. 

Some individuals may have come to terms with their own mortality and the possible loss of loved ones in their lives. In these instances, there might be a quiet or peaceful acceptance of death as an integral part of every journey through life. While there may be accepted, this does not negate the grief and loss that are experienced after the death of a loved one. 


As you age and experience more loss, these losses may encourage you to get your end-of-life affairs in order. These actions may include updating a will or creating a plan as to what to do with your remains after passing. Many individuals decide ahead of time where they wish to be buried or whether they want to be cremated. Making these decisions in advance may seem morbid to some, however, this planning can help alleviate some of the stress placed on your family after your passing. 

It is possible that the loss of a loved one later in life may also create a sense of panic in older adults. These individuals may feel as though their own time is short and this can create immense stress. Some adults may feel as though they need more time or can worry that they have not accomplished as much as they wanted to throughout their life. These feelings and emotions are all very natural parts of coping with loss as you age. 

How To Cope With The Loss Of Someone Close To You

The topic of dying and dealing with grief after the loss of someone close to you can have serious implications for your overall mental health. There is no perfect set of rules on how to handle grief and the psychological effects of the death of a loved one can leave you feeling confused and lost. Facing loss can present a variety of challenges for the loved ones left behind, but there are a few ways in which to manage the grief and make progress toward healing after the loss. 

FINDING A THERAPIST

Finding a therapist after you have suffered from the loss of a loved one can help in the healing process. Trained professionals can help you process your emotions after the death of a loved one. Grief and loneliness can be quite debilitating emotions and the help of a professional can make the situation seem less futile. A professional therapist can also alleviate some of the doubt and internalized guilt that often accompanies the loss of a loved one. 

ALLOW YOUR TIME TO PROPERLY GRIEVE

As mentioned previously, there is no set timeline when it comes to the grieving process. Every individual is different and therefore, each grieving period will be different as well. It is important to give yourself enough time to process the complex emotions that accompany the loss of a loved one.

Rushing through the process can create more distress for those struggling with grief. It is important to be patient with yourself through the grieving process. There will be days in which you feel great and days during which your emotions will hit an extreme low. This fluctuation is normal and a part of the healing process. Acknowledging and accepting the emotions as they come whether they be positive or negative is a crucial part of proper grieving. 

JOIN A GRIEF SUPPORT GROUP

Losing someone unexpectedly can make you feel isolated from your friends and others around you that may have not experienced significant loss before. This lack of understanding can make the grieving process more difficult as others may expect you to heal faster than you are able. It can be extremely helpful to join a grief support group in order to process the loss of a loved one. Grieving adults can struggle to open up to others while they are experiencing loss, especially if they feel as though their emotional distress may burden their friends or those within their communities.

Grief support groups create a safe space in which those left behind are able to share their emotions and struggles as they navigate through the grieving process. These groups can help people feel less alone and can offer important emotional support as those struggling with loss are able to connect with others working through the same process. There are various online resources that can help you find a grief support group. Some grief support groups are fairly specific, and you can match with individuals that have lost a loved one due to similar reasons. This too can help you connect with individuals that are going through the same experiences as you.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH A SUPPORTIVE GROUP OF FAMILY & FRIENDS DURING THIS DIFFICULT TIME

Navigating adulthood and loss at the same time can be an isolating and difficult experience. Many people may feel alone after the loss of a loved one. Because of these feelings of desperation and isolation, it is very important to surround yourself with a supportive group of family and friends during the grieving process. Family and friends that work on offering support for the grieving can help you to manage your responsibilities while dealing with the sadness of losing a loved one. 

Our society frequently discourages expressions of emotion as they are often considered a weakness. This mentality can make the process of properly grieving quite difficult as many individuals struggle to present a strong, emotionally stable appearance. However, bottling up your true emotions can make it difficult to heal after the loss of a loved one.

That is why it is so important to surround yourself with loving family and friends that can help you shoulder the emotional burden that accompanies the loss of a loved one. Family and friends can help support you after the sudden loss and can encourage you to process and experience your emotions in a healthy way. A supportive group can also help you to navigate through the various stages of grief. 

SPEND TIME DOING THE THIKNGS THAT BRING YOU JOY/FULFILLMENT

While managing feelings of grief and loneliness, it can be helpful to spend your time participating in activities that usually bring you joy or fulfillment. It is easy to fall into despair after losing a loved one and these feelings of loss can make even the simplest activities seem unappealing. Your mind can feel overrun with a variety of complex emotions that may overwhelm you. To manage these emotions, spending time carrying out activities that usually bring you joy can help you to continue living your life.

Losing a loved one can often make you feel as though your entire world stops. The loss and grief that you feel can lock you away from doing the things you love and experiencing the world around you. While this is a natural part of the grieving process, it is still important to spend time doing things that may take your mind off the grief momentarily. If all of your previous hobbies are unappealing during this time, you try out a new hobby or activity in order to take your mind off of the loss you just experienced for a short amount of time. 

INCORPORATE EXERCISE INTO YOUR DAILY ROUTINE

After the sudden loss of a loved one, your daily routine can be disrupted. This disruption can cause additional stress and worry for those managing their grief. Incorporating exercise into your daily or weekly routine can help you to maintain some semblance of structure and routine in your life. Not only does exercise promote a healthy physical body, but the activity is also proven to help with mental and emotional health as well. 

Death is something that we cannot control, and this loss of control can create stress and panic in those that are navigating the grieving process. Adding exercise to your daily routine can help restore a feeling of control and order over your life which is essential to the healing process. It is important to set realistic expectations for yourself during this time and be gentle throughout the entire process.

It is perfectly fine if you do not work out every single day, and not every single workout needs to be extremely intense. Prioritize moving your body in a way that can calm your body and mind during the grieving process. Yoga and meditation are both wonderful practices that can help calm both your mind and body after the sudden loss of a loved one. 

PURCHASE A PIECE OF KEEPSAKE JEWELRY FOR REMEMBRANCE IN ORDER TO HONOR YOUR LOVED ONE

After the sudden loss of a loved one, your daily routine can be disrupted. This disruption can cause additional stress and worry for those managing their grief. Incorporating exercise into your daily or weekly routine can help you to maintain some semblance of structure and routine in your life. Not only does exercise promote a healthy physical body, but the activity is also proven to help with mental and emotional health as well. 

Cremation Necklaces, Cremation Rings, and Cremation Bracelets

Purchasing a cremation necklace, ring, or bracelet is a wonderful way to remember a loved one that has passed. The jewelry pieces can be personalized and can hold some of the ashes of your loved one. These are wonderful options to gift to family members that are experiencing loss as each member has a keepsake that honors their loved one that passed.

Jewelry Keepsakes has a variety of high-quality pieces, such as their 14K cremation jewelry pieces that will last the test of time and act as a gentle reminder of a loved one that has passed. 


Photo Engraved Jewelry Pieces

If you are not interested in cremation jewelry pieces, Jewelry Keepsakes also offers photo-engraved jewelry pieces to memorialize a loved one that has passed away. With color photo jewelry options as well as photo engraved keychains, there are a variety of beautiful jewelry pieces that would act as a wonderful way to honor a loved one that has passed.

Some of the most popular photo-engraved jewelry items can be found here.  You can also read more about the process of selecting the perfect photo-engraved jewelry piece with this helpful article.


Thumbprint Jewelry

Thumbprint jewelry gifts also come in a variety of styles and serve as beautiful memorial keepsakes. These pieces are jewelry made with a thumbprint and their tactile nature can offer comfort to those experiencing loss. If you are unsure how to pick out the perfect handmade piece of thumbprint jewelry, Jewelry Keepsakes has a variety of articles that discuss this topic. 


Jewelry Made From Ashes

Jewelry made from the ashes or cremains of a loved one can serve as a thoughtful keepsake. Ash jewelry such as rings made with ashes or rings made with cremains can help grieving family members memorialize a loved one that has passed away.

Jewelry Keepsakes offers a variety of unique jewelry made with ash and stylish ash jewelry. With a variety of customization options, older adults and grieving families can find the perfect unique jewelry made with the cremains in order to remember their loved one that has passed. 

Loss Frequently Asked Questions

What age is the hardest to lose a parent?

It is always difficult to lose a parent, however, many believe that it is hardest for young people to lose their parents. Children are still extremely dependent on their parents for support and stability and therefore the sudden loss of a parent can impact a child immensely. 

Can losing someone change your personality?

Losing someone can definitely impact your personality. Depending on the circumstances, a loss can alter the manner in which you view the world and those around you. It is normal to feel as if you have changed slightly after the loss of a loved one. 

How do older adults respond to and deal with grief?

Everyone deals with grief differently. Older adults generally shoulder more responsibilities after the loss of a loved one and frequently must offer emotional support to others during their own grieving process. The loss of a loved one may also cause older adults to question their own mortality and life decisions. 

What type of keepsake can I have with me during my wedding to remind me of my mother who has passed?

To remember a mother that has passed on your wedding day, a piece of cremation jewelry such as a necklace or bracelet can help you to remember your mother on your wedding day. 

Aging & Mourning Gracefully

Losing a loved one is an extremely difficult process that every human will experience at some point in their life. The grieving process is challenging and looks different for each individual but acknowledging the different stages of grief and expressing your emotions are important ways to manage the sadness and loneliness that comes after the passing of a loved one. There are a variety of ways to cope with grief and remembering to treat yourself gently throughout the process is essential.

December 13, 2022 by Jeri K. Augustus

Work Cited

CDC. (2021, August 6). Grief and Loss. Www.cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/stress-coping/grief-loss/index.html

‌Robinson, L., & Smith, M. (2021, October). Bereavement: Grieving the Loss of a Loved One - HelpGuide.org. Https://Www.helpguide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief/bereavement-grieving-the-death-of-a-loved-one.htm