living loss / chronic sorrow

“you thought you were going to Paris

but it turned out to be Rome”

living loss

Living loss is a form of loss experienced while someone is still alive. Manu Keirse – a prominent expert on grief – introduced the term. This can include scenarios such as dementia in a partner or a child being born with a disability. It signifies a profound change in your life as you continuously have to make adjustments, which makes you mourn.


In this metaphor, “Paris” represents the expectations, dreams, or the original life path you had planned.

“Rome” symbolizes the reality of the current life, which has been altered by circumstances and does not align with what was originally expected.


You can only feel sorrow from a place of love and connection with someone. That’s why it’s also shocking and painful. Out of that love and connection, you take responsibility for the other person, which requires a lot of energy and can – in the long run – take a toll on yourself.

challenges you might encounter with living loss

  • misunderstanding from the environment leading to loneliness and social isolation
  • feeling unable to fully experience your emotions because “everything could be different tomorrow.” This can lead to emotional numbness
  • dealing with feelings of guilt or shame
  • loss of energy: You have a lot to juggle, such as daily caregiving tasks, other family members, visits you want to make, work, administrative tasks, etc.
  • long-term emotional strain: The ongoing need for adaptation and uncertainty about the future weigh heavily on you
  • excessive stress, for example, trying to do everything as well as possible at the expense of yourself. Cognitive function loss could be a warning sign
  • grief over the fact that you’ve lost (part of) yourself. Due to circumstances, you’ve had to take a different role, and your initial life plans can no longer be realized, leading to feelings of frustration, helplessness, or hopelessness

nature coaching

It’s quite a lot to deal with. You don’t have to go through it alone. Are you experiencing a form of living loss and do you have have a wish regarding to it? Then walk with me.

A green environment, a listening ear, someone – with an empathetic heart – to share your story with. Your wish and its execution are central throughout the process. You will engage in exercises with the help of nature (only if you wish) so that you gain insight into what you can do (or refrain from doing), to achieve the situation you desire. This will be expressed very concretely by you. I provide the guidance. It all unfolds naturally. The aim is to improve the quality of your life.

real-life examples

Annemarie’s husband developed dementia, and her wish was to remain energetic now that she had become a caregiver. She found relaxation in nature. After venting about everything that was going on, space opened up. Space to do exercises with the help of nature, gave her insight into what she could do to keep her energy level high. This recharged her, it gave her the strength she needed for herself firstly and from there she could support her husband in this challenging process.

Trudie experienced a burn-out. It’s quite a task for a mother to combine a child with a disability, a family, and work. In the end, it depleted her energy to such an extent that she experienced a “burn-out.” The walks gave her insight into how she could create a better balance for herself and be kinder to herself. This gradually improved her health: she regained her zest for life and, as she puts it, she is “living much more consciously.”

healthcare professional

Are you working in an environment where there is ‘living loss’ and are you encountering something? Then feel welcome to share what you’re facing and your wish regarding to it. It already feels relieving to talk about it. Life is meant well, also for you.


For more information, call me: Elza Ruygrok, 06-46 39 29 67 registered nature coach