Tips for Thought

Tangible Loss and Intangible Loss

Loss is a natural part of life—a universal experience that every person will encounter at some point, whether losing a loved one, a job, a relationship, or even a dream. It can be a harrowing and challenging experience, but it is important to recognize that there are two different ways in which losses can be experienced— tangible and intangible. Here we’ll explore both ways losses can be felt and provide tips on how to cope with them.

Tangible Losses

Tangible losses are the most commonly recognized form of loss. These losses can be seen or touched, such as losing a personal possession, a job, or a loved one. These losses are often the most recognized form of loss and can be incredibly painful to handle. Examples of tangible loss can also include the loss of a home, sense of security or safety, friendships or relationships, financial losses, chronic illness, and environmental factors like toxic stress.

How do you deal with it?

Dealing with tangible losses can be an arduous process. However, it’s worthwhile to recognize that everyone will handle loss differently, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

It can help to find a support system of friends, family members, or even professionals who can listen to and validate your feelings in a non-judgmental manner. Acknowledging grief is an integral part of the healing process. Give yourself time to recognize and accept your emotions, whether it’s through journaling, talking with others, or engaging in mindfulness practices.

In addition to processing your feelings, it can also help to look into resources available that may aid you in the recovery process, depending on what kind of tangible loss occurred. For example, if dealing with the loss of a job, apply for unemployment benefits if available in your area. Many organizations provide assistance, such as food pantries and job training programs for those struggling financially due to their loss. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if needed!

Above all else, remember that you are not alone in this difficult time and seek out whatever healing strategies work best for you when facing losses of all kinds.

Intangible Losses

On the other hand, intangible losses are not as easily recognizable as tangible losses. These may include the loss of a dream, the loss of your sense of self, or the loss of your expectations. Intangible losses can be just as painful as tangible losses, but they can be more difficult to recognize and accept. Examples of intangible loss can also include the loss of memories, sense of stability, mental health, security or trust in relationships, and freedom.

Losing something you cannot see or touch can be as painful as a tangible loss. However, it can also profoundly impact your emotional and mental well-being.

Which experience is more painful?

While tangible losses are often more immediately obvious, intangible losses can be just as devastating, if not more so. People who experience intangible loss may struggle to articulate their pain, making it more difficult to find support and resources. In addition, they can be more problematic to recognize because they are often internal and abstract.

For example, someone who has lost their sense of identity due to a significant life change, such as retirement or divorce, may struggle to express their feelings and find the support they need to navigate this loss. Similarly, someone who has experienced a loss of mental health may struggle to articulate their pain and find appropriate resources for treatment.

To cope with intangible losses, practicing self-care and seeking support from trusted friends, family members, or professionals is crucial. By acknowledging and processing these losses, individuals can begin to heal and move forward healthily and positively. You can also try…

Finding a new passion: Losing a dream or sense of identity can be overwhelming, but it’s an opportunity to discover new passions and interests. Try something new that excites you and can help you find a new sense of purpose.

Accepting your emotions: It’s okay to feel sad, angry, frustrated, or confused about your loss. Allow yourself to feel your emotions and avoid suppressing them. Acknowledge that it’s normal to grieve the loss of something important to you.

Practicing gratitude: Focusing on what you still have in your life can help shift your perspective and provide a sense of gratitude. Try keeping a gratitude journal or taking a few minutes each day to reflect on what you’re thankful for.

Understanding the difference between tangible and intangible losses can help us better cope by allowing us to identify and acknowledge the unique challenges that come with each type of loss. Ultimately, understanding them can help us be more compassionate with ourselves and others as we go through difficult times. This way, we can cultivate greater empathy and kindness for ourselves and those around us.