What’s grief & loss got to do with it?
(Well, not quite Tina Turner’s lyrics, but you get the gist)
Grief isn’t just about losing someone close to us, it can be about:
Sound about right for us, going through perimenopause or menopause?
With the increase in stressful life events, paired with the emotional and physical symptoms of the perimenopause & menopause, which can make it an uncomfortable transition, we are likely to feel overwhelmed & distressed.
Perimenopause & menopause can bring challenges on so many different levels, right? The severity of symptoms can vary significantly for each of us, yet it is important to learn to accept the changes it brings. Yes, that’s a toughie. We feel our younger self slipping away, at the same as trying to cope with irritability, coat hanger fatigue (as I like to call it), brain fog, itching (oh yes, at times, that unbearable creepy crawling feeling over your skin) and the potential loss for our childbearing years.
As we are arriving at a new stage in life – our midlife, it can be a real moment of reflection on the past and, rather than pushing against it, allow yourself to grieve the past as well as look to what you want the future to hold.
The menopause is a natural process, although it doesn’t always feel like it – aye!?
We have to allow & welcome the passage of time. And so, whether we move through perimenopause and/or the menopause gradually or sometimes like a high-speed train (if you have had surgery, like I have and the brakes go on & we ground to an almighty halt with our oestrogen levels) we grieve for everything that was, as we try to come to terms with being in a different stage of our lives & start planning for the future. And, hello there, we could have another 30 + years potentially ahead of us!
It is a pivotal time in our mid-life when it is not uncommon to feel grief & loss. It is natural to grieve the loss of our youth, the uncertainty of ageing, the physical changes for our bodies, struggling with our identity as well other life transitions that happen around the same time – grown-up children leaving home for university or to setup home themselves, elderly parents deteriorating, caring for them, their passing and perhaps retirement, personal illness, divorce or separation, [and] loss of social or financial support and thinking about that last big career change or radical about turn on what we’ve always done job wise.
The changes of perimenopause & menopause can also affect our relationships. See if you can be open in your feelings and share your struggles, as this will help give you support when you need it most. Keeping connected & keep talking so there’s no surprise if a hissy fit comes out of nowhere (sound familiar?) or you want to shut the world out & hide away under your duvet! (Many, many times in this house).
If you are a younger women sent into an early menopause you may be grieving the loss of your fertility & not being able to have children. The side effects of early menopause can have an impact on your perception as a woman and the unfairness of this happening to you years before you ever expected. Even if you didn’t wantchildren, the loss of possibility of being a Mum can be just as crushing.
Does this ring any bells for you?
How many plates are you spinning & not wishing to (or hoping) to drop, whilst dealing with grief & loss?
The symptoms of menopause (and there are 48 & counting! https://gen-m.com/symptoms/) can affect us in so many aspects of our lives and as we travel through our grief, we mustn’t try to be wonder woman and wear ourpants over our jamies!
Menopause isn’t something we can stop but we can respect ourselves with good diet, exercise, and rest. Even though grief may feel heavy, numbing, shocking – we all feel it differently, by encouraging ourselves to do things for own self-care, we can work through our grief for the better.
Some women use this to time make real life changes. If something isn’t right, don’t be afraid to do this. It could be related to your relationship or professional life. Tune in to what is going on inside for you, follow your heart& gut instinct and have the courage to change what needs to change.
Allow yourself to recognise the losses and the feelings they bring. Preparation is key (timely as I headed for a hysterectomy last year, around this time). This includes learning as much as you can about the symptoms, finding natural remedies, making an informed decision about taking HRT (may be the testosterone gel for mood enhancement & getting back that sexual intimacy & local pessaries – vaginal atrophy be gone!), and above all, listen to your body. Our bodies keep score, they play detective & give us clues to tell us when to sit up, take notice & be kinder to ourselves.
We can allow ourselves to grieve for the loss of our hopes, dreams and expectations. Allow your tears and sadness to surface. This releases tension and helps to unravel our feelings of loss.
Perimenopause & menopause is all about accepting and adjusting, but we can only do that if we acknowledge how we feel and take the steps to work with change.
So, gift yourself permission to value, honour & respect both your perimenopause & menopause as a grieving experience. It’s something I’m working at (at 50 -1 as, I like to refer to my age).
It’s all about self–care., self-kindness & self-compassion.
Perimenopause matters. Menopause matters
Nic Pendregaust is a counsellor……