As beings with higher consciousness, we dream, we fantasise; we have hopes and we have desires. Sometimes our wishes are not fulfilled, sometimes our dreams remain unrealised. Be it having an absent parent in our early childhood years, the experience of pregnancy loss or infertility etc., or incurring opportunity costs of abandoned choices, these can be just as painful and sometimes even more so than actual object losses (e.g. death of a loved one).
This is not about dwelling in past regrets or crying over spilt milk. What is essential here is to recognise what was lost, and the enormity of these; because in doing so, we are also recognising and making space for what we want and might need moving forward. If we don’t understand the significance of what we gave up chasing, how do we know what it’s worth?
Sometimes even though we haven’t had a particular experience, we are still able to empathise and identify/point out the missing piece(s) and/or what is needed. With the people we love and care about, we often endeavour to provide what we didn’t receive but maybe wished we had (e.g. physical affection, emotional support); these are the parts of us that know (perhaps less than consciously) and are telling ourselves we deserve better.
While it is more common to grieve over actual object loss, it is also important to acknowledge and mourn what we never had. Only by honouring and respecting what could have been; by protecting and acknowledging our needs that have gone unmet, can we ensure a better tomorrow for ourselves and for the people/world we leave behind.
I am a clinical psychologist with over 8 years of experience working with adolescents and adults across a variety of Government and Community settings in Western Australia and Singapore. This includes individuals within in- and out-patient hospitals, rehabilitation centres, and in prison settings. I work primarily from dynamically oriented and attachment based approaches, where my focus is on addressing underlying issues that often mask as problematic symptoms. I believe in the value of attending to core issues and the context with which one’s distress develops, lest they remain under- or unprocessed, creating other problems that can manifest in various ways later in life.