What Do I Lament?

Lamenting is defined as expressing sorrow, mourning, or regret and we commonly see expressions of lament through the experience of death, sickness, or a broken heart. The loss of a loved one, the news of a terminal or painful illness, or the end of a relationship is a clear trigger for lamenting and these are some of the moments we have learned to expect people to grieve. However, lamenting is not only limited and acceptable to these few experiences. Loss does not always look like what we expect. What we believe we can grieve and lament for normally

encompasses a greater range of experiences.

What have you lost?

In my work with teens that are wrestling with depressive and anxious symptoms, a common theme that arises is the unresolved and unlamented losses in their lives. They noticed that they are no longer enjoying the activities they liked to do before. They find themselves more sluggish and irritable and for some reason they cannot identify why. What has changed? It is a question they are not sure how to answer. After some exploring, we began to notice atypical losses that did not fit into the earlier categories. They were losses like an end to

their senior sports season, a close friend that transferred schools, or a missed academic opportunity. These losses do not match the gravity of a lost loved one, but they are losses nonetheless that need to be lamented. Take a moment to reflect on what you have lost this past year. It may fit into the traditional categories of loss, but notice the atypical ones too.

What losses have you not lamented?

After reflecting on losses you have experienced, notice if you have taken the time to adequately lament. You may notice that you have not grieved at all for it, because you did not even recognize it as something to even grieve for. Unresolved loss and grief is a heavy burden that we carry day to day in sometimes subtle and unsubtle ways. It can be a weight that you have never even realized you were carrying. At times we will notice the symptoms of the burden, like an unshakeable sadness, worry, indecisiveness, irritability, or restlessness, but we may not realize that it is coming from our unresolved losses. If we allow ourselves the space to feel the pain, sadness, anger, and doubt, we may finally find peace and healing at the end of all that sorrow.

New Practices

New Year’s celebration rituals tend to be exciting, loud, and forward focused. We go out to celebrate and cheer for the New Year. We ask each other what New Year’s resolutions we have made or goals we want to achieve. These are all good practices and helpful for giving us direction for the future, but this moment can also be good to recognize the weight we have been carrying. Take a moment to practice lamenting for what you have lost this past year in 2023. Things that we too quickly rushed past because of our busyness or discomfort. We are already a few weeks into 2024, but it is not too late to start reflecting and lamenting. The push we need in 2024 may be in recognizing the things we have lost that we never even realized and taking the time to lament.

-Daniel Pak – learn more about working with Daniel here!

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