Loss and Grief… a part of all our lives
Grief comes in to all our lives at some point. Perhaps we instinctively think of grief as linked to death but in truth it is more correctly linked to loss. Loss is something we can experience in many ways. It may be loss connected to a broken relationship for example. Loss of a person is most acutely and powerfully felt when we lose someone in death.
You may have experienced such losses through ended relationships, separations, the death of a parent, a family member ,a loved one , or a child. Loss can also be more subtle and less obvious, such as the loss of one’s future through illness or infertility.
If any of these reflect any part of your life experience this article may be of some help to you.
What is Grief ?
Grief is a normal and healthy reaction that occurs when you lose someone or something important. It is the emotional working through of your loss. It is the process of grieving and dealing with your feelings that helps you to adjust to your loss and to live your life with an adjusted horizon that incorporates the loss.
You may try to avoid or postpone grieving but in truth this can lead to complications such as depression or anxiety.
Understanding what is happening to you will help. It is also important to recognise that your grief is unique to you. How you feel and how you handle your feelings is linked to your personality, your history and other losses you have already dealt with. If you are the kind of person who never shares your emotions with others you will likely find it a little more difficult at this time as you have no established natural download for your feelings. Friends and family can be very helpful in this regard. Equally if one’s whole family are grieving it may be important to seek someone outside of the grouping who is unaffected.
What you can expect!
It is entirely natural to feel sadness and yearning for the person, object or future you have lost. Feeling worried and anxious is very usual and is indicative of deeper fears in one about coping with their life changed by the loss. Feeling confused and less competent in many areas is usual as one’s system works through all the emotions one can become less able to concentrate or to complete tasks.
When grieving one can be over-sensitive to other people’s behavior, which can cause difficulties in personal relationships. It is worth remembering that your reactions may be amplified to what others say and do and to notice how you might have responded at another time.
Reacting strongly to seemingly minor losses or changes. This occurs because they trigger feelings which relate to the core loss you are dealing with or trying to ignore.
You can see that the range of feelings you may experience is quite extensive. Recognising the normality of your feelings allows you not to retreat from them and facilitates you in allowing an emotional working through of each of them .
In other words rather than saying ‘Oh that’s silly’, to be feeling like that, it is more beneficial to you to realise that while it may seem silly it is perfectly normal considering what you are adjusting to and to allow yourself to be that way.
The intensity of what you feel will relate to what you have lost and the timing of that loss in your life. Equally if the loss was sudden and unexpected it is normal for all feelings to be considerably amplified.
Relationships that have been complex in life are often complex in death. A daughter or son who has an on-going rift or conflict with the parent, for example. The factor of complexity can be that all opportunities for reparation and healing are no longer available. This can amplify and complicate grief. The lack of further opportunity is best acknowledged and worked through.
Grief draws up like a magnet to the surface the deepest feelings within you. For this reason the time of grief can feel powerful, intense and you may feel somewhat out of control. Losses which have never been dealt with can meet each other in this turbulent rise of feeling and can intensify what you are feeling to a degree that you may find frightening. Such collisions of past and present losses and grief may require a clinicians listening to help you stabilise and understand what is occurring and to guide you forward.
For the very same reason grief can bring a time of growth as you meet the challenge of understanding yourself more and of letting go what is gone.
So, do remember…
- Your grief is unique to you
- There is an emotional working through process which needs to occur for you to move forward in your grief
- You will need time to identify, accept and to work through your feelings.
- Give yourself all the time that you need. Do not measure yourself by any one else as their loss is different to yours.
- Support is important. Sometimes being able to talk will be supportive , sometimes to be able to enjoy yourself and forget will be just as important.
- Connecting with your feelings through writing can be therapeutic
It is good to remind oneself of the necessary cycle of life involving a seamless continuum of endings and beginnings, winter and spring, death and birth.