We generally associate grief with death. Someone has died and an empty space has been created in the lives of those who are left behind.
This is the traditional understanding of grief and as much as this is often the case, associating grief exclusively with death, prevents us from being able to respond to other losses that leave us injured.
Grief is what happens to us anytime we have someone or something taken away that we did not want to lose.
The sense of loss is personal
It might be your job, your pet, your love relationship or even downsizing and having to leave the home and neighborhood that was yours for many years. Your loss might have to do with a friendship gone sour or an illness that took some of your abilities away. The reason behind the loss is less important than the impact you are left with when what you desire is gone.
Grief seems reasonable when death is involved. Most of us can imagine what it might feel like when a loved one dies. It may, on the other hand, seem odd to associate those same feelings and needs when thinking about retirement, ageing, children leaving home or separation and divorce.
Grief is how we respond to loss and grief is a series of emotions that cause us pain. This is where we have the chance to acknowledge how we feel and where we can begin to mend our damaged self.
Grief can be complicated
There are no absolute formulas for getting through the pain but emotional hurt does not resolve or go away on its own. It needs a response.
If you hurt from a loss, you can choose to ignore the emotions you’re experiencing or take the time to begin the process of acknowledging how you feel.
While shrugging your shoulders, toughing it out or pretending that it’s nothing and you’re fine are options many choose, anytime we ignore an important emotional event we only put off the inevitable. Unacknowledged loss and the hurt that goes with it linger and will likely cause us emotional or physical difficulties at some point.
-Painful losses need to be acknowledged and not swept under the carpet of our lives.
-A loss that may have occurred years ago but was not dealt with, will linger.
-Admit you have lost someone or something that hurts.
-Decide you are going to deal with your feelings.
-Commit to finding a way to express what you feel.
John D. Martin is the author of I Can’t Stop Crying: Grief and Recovery, a Compassionate Guide and Help Me I Hurt. Both Books are available at Indigo and Amazon.ca