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Types of Losses


These losses are usually profound, involving as they do so many of life's anchors and stabilisers. The typically involve losses of status, family roots, financial certainty, losses of support systems, losses of identity, losses of friendships, losses of language, losses of things known and self-evident, losses of cultural identities and certainties, losses of self-image and the like.

Physical Losses

These are losses which arise from serious illness such as heart attacks, or diagnoses which augur significant changes to a person's life, losses of limbs or other bodily functions such as sight, hearing, mobility and so on. Included in this heading are losses resulting from significant changes in weight, significant changes in physical appearance, the loss of youth and vigour and, finally, losses which result from aging. The losses attendant upon aging encompass both the physical losses of aging - failing organs, impotence and other dysfunctional syndromes, as well as the psychological adjustments needed to face mortality and death.

Relationship Losses

These losses result from divorce or relationship break-up, losses which result from children leaving home (the empty nest syndrome), losses with the end of intimate friendships resulting from disagreements or immigration or death, and, finally, changes in family and social connections due to geographical moves (see above under immigration).

Psychological Losses

Of course, all losses are encapsulated under the rubric of psychological losses but it is worth mentioning here, losses of working career resulting from loss of job following retrenchment, or following company relocation, forced retraining, taking early retirement, immigration, or from any other similar type of circumstance.

Sundry Losses

This heading embraces certain losses already mentioned under immigration - that of the loss of status. This type of loss which is common in immigration, also may be endured as a result of changes in one's work environment - demotion or company changes or may result from any other material change in circumstance such as one's spouse or one's children suddenly becoming particularly financially successful. So, too, if there are material changes in the market place, or in one's social circles. Under this head may also be mentioned financial losses resulting from market shifts, bankruptcy and the like.

Losses of Freedom

Losses here typically result from imprisonment, but this type of loss can also arise from dramatic medical changes in one's person. Not only is the person medically affected subject to this type of loss; so too is the care-giver. Losses of this type occur also with the birth of a child or result from other changes in the family. Finally, this type of loss often arises from financial hardship.

Losses Resulting from Significant Trauma

Many of the losses mentioned above also result from significant trauma but under this heading may be included catastrophic losses following wars, natural disasters, assaults, deaths and the like. These cataclysmic losses often result in such significant trauma that it results in post-traumatic stress disorder, requiring specialist handling in the treatment of such trauma.

Here is an Alphabetic List of Types of Losses

  • Loss of Body Function – hearing, vision, mental capacities, mobility, communication
  • Loss of Body Image – body part through surgery, accident, change in appearance, aging
  • Loss of Control – natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, social conditions, hospitalisation of loved one
  • Loss of Freedom – political, employment, incarceration, stigmatised disease or culture impacting access to health care
  • Loss of Health – medical conditions, illnesses, disability, debilitating or terminal diseases
  • Loss of Home, Property – homelessness, natural or man-made disasters, aging, insolvency
  • Loss of Identity - marriage, career, empty nest syndrome, relocation, retirement
  • Loss of Independence – change in living situation e.g. entering nursing home, marriage
  • Loss of Innocence – early sexual experiences, advertising and media influences children to grow up too soon
  • Loss of Job, Income – downsizing, layoffs, retirement, career change
  • Loss of One’s Own Life – death, suicide, accident, homicide, murder, war
  • Loss of Plans, Hopes & Dreams for the Future – miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth, adoption, infertility, relationship, job, career
  • Loss of Relationship – death, divorce, pet break-up, illness, adoption, miscarriage
  • Loss of Religious Beliefs – questioning beliefs, disillusioned with church, organized religion, impact of sexual misconduct scandals
  • Loss of Role – occupation, job, relationship e.g. parent, child, friend
  • Loss of Safety – vulnerable feelings after rape, robbery, betrayal, unanticipated events, crises, traumatic events or disasters
  • Loss of Sexual Function – from physical or psychological aetiology
  • Loss of Significant Person – death, divorce, illness, relocation, military duty, missing person
  • Loss of Treasured Object(s) – favourite objects, family heirlooms destroyed in fire/flood, theft
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