Experiencing grief

Experiencing grief

22 May

*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037

Grieving comes to most of us at some point in our lives. In fact, statistics show that each person can expect to experience the loss of a loved one once every 9 to 13 years. The resulting sadness may be the most painful of life’s experiences. Because it is painful, however, our eventual adaptation to the loss can bring meaning and integrity to our lives, and this, ultimately, is a gift to us from the one we have lost. It is a reminder to us that the circle is unbroken.

Our ability to adapt to loss is an important feature of the course of our lives. Change can instigate growth. Loss can give rise to gain. If we do not grieve the loss, however, it may drain us of energy and interfere with our living fully in the present. If we are not able to mourn at all, we may spend our lives under the spell of issues and past relationships, living in the past and failing to connect with the experience of the present.

Grieving is a process of experiencing our reactions to loss. It is similar to the term bereavement, which means the state, not the process, of suffering from a loss. Normal grieving is an expected part of the process of recuperating from a loss. The intensity of the process comes as a surprise to most people, and it becomes one of the most significant experiences. People have their own individual responses. People will experience the process in the same way.

The first reaction to the loss of a loved one is usually a sense of disbelief, shock, numbness, and bewilderment. The survivor may experience a period of denial, and which the reality of the loss is put out of mind. This reaction provides the person some time to prepare to deal with the inevitable pain.

All of us grieve in different ways, depending on the circumstance of the death, our own personal characteristics, and the meanings attached to the death by those left behind. Nonetheless, there are some specific actions that most of us can take to complete the process in a way that allows us to move on, eventually, to a whole and meaningful life again.

Allow yourself to grieve and feel the depth of your loss. Grieving is hard. We may feel that we should be strong and hold in our emotions, thoughts, and feelings as the only way to get through a trying time. This approach, however, makes it very difficult to complete the process of grieving. It is important to accept the reality of the loss. The person who died is gone and will not return. This fact must be accepted in order for the grief process to continue. Try to understand why the death occurred and the events that led to the death. Give yourself permission to feel and think about whatever comes up regarding your loss. If happy thoughts and feelings come your way, allow them to happen. Similarly, if dreadful pain, sadness, and anxiety show up, when tears turn to uncontrollable sobs, give into these temporary feelings. Embrace your sadness, know it and make it your own. If it is difficult to open yourself to these feelings, it may help to make a personal commitment to complete the grief process in the near future. Vow to yourself that for your own benefit, for the good of others in your life, and for your future happiness, you need to get through your loss completely and in a healthy way. This means open yourself up to all of the feelings and thoughts, both positive and negative, and let them happen.

Grief is a very personal experience and one of our most painful to endure. It is also a journey into the depths of our lives that can ultimately reveal our strength of character.