In this webisode of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) organization, Ted Bowman joins the show to talk about different types of loss. Things rarely work out as planned. Dr. Gloria Horsley introduces Bowman as she asks about shattered dreams. “What are some of the factors around loss?” she asks. There are conspicuous losses, such as a death or a divorce. There are also internal losses that he calls shattered dreams or loss of dreams. It’s a “death” of what you expect life to be. You might be dealing with a death or a diagnosis, but you’re thinking, “This isn’t fair” or “This wasn’t supposed to happen.”
If you do everything you’re supposed to do, or make a vow to be with someone for life, how can the direction you were taking suddenly turn? Those are pictures of your life, and what your life was supposed to be. What happens when things don’t turn out to match the pictures? “Our culture helps people deal with conspicuous losses,” he says. There are no ceremonies for dealing with a shattered dream.
Naming Your Loss
If you look around, you’ll have no idea who has a shattered dream. It might be the loss of a job. You have to let go of old pictures in order to create new ones. “Part of it is just the naming,” he says. If something can’t be mentioned, how can you manage it? Being aware of a shattered dream is step one. Grieving that shattered dream is important, too. Nobody wants to be a widow, to have a terminal illness, or to lose a child.
Seeking support can also be a great help, and many times this means professional support. In a culture where nobody is “trained” to naturally help those with shattered dreams heal, you may need to look beyond friends and family.