Who Am I Without My Loved One?

Loss doesn’t only take away a person you love. It also takes away a part of yourself. When you first experience a loss, you might feel lost and afloat. It’s hard to remember who you are when you are trying to make sense of who you are not anymore—a caretaker, a daughter, a father, a friend. 

Figuring out what roles you embody while you’re grieving can be complicated. Sometimes a role you once played differs from who you are or what you want now. Sometimes you must play two conflicting roles, like the devastated wife and the supportive mother. Whether conscious of it or not, we all assign expectations to ourselves and to others. Part of grieving means not only adjusting to the expectations we once had of the world around us, but also our expectations of ourselves.

Here is an exercise to help you anchor you as you ask yourself, who am I? Plan to keep this exercise top of mind for about a week. You might print it out and hang it in your office, or take a screenshot and make it your phone background for a week.

The exercise is simply to add roles you hold as they occur to you. Neighbor, friend, coworker. Congregant. Volunteer. Pet owner. No role is too broad or too specific. Take your time reflecting on the wide range of roles you play. 

At the end of the week, look at this list and see a composite picture. Who you are may have changed, but you are still a growing, evolving version of yourself. You are whole, expansive, and complete. 

To learn more about bringing grief support and exercises like these to your workplace, community, or school, check out our various grief support programs here.