When we lose someone or something we deeply love, the result can be very painful. After a tremendously significant loss, one experiences the arrival of unexpected and difficult emotions to cope with such as shock, anger or guilt. Even though these frightening and really overwhelming feelings are more than expectable and nothing but a natural reaction to loss, it may sometimes feel like these thoughts and emotions will never let go of us. To accept them as a universal part of the grieving process and allowing oneself to experience any and all of these new feelings is the crucial ingredient for the healing process to take place. Even though there is no right or wrong way to grieve – because in the end we all have different life stories – there are many good advices and healthy ways to help us cope with the pain. Everyone can get through it, and once the grief is vented and allowed to be experienced in full extent, one can not only heal the emotional and spiritual wounds, but actually regenerate, reinforce and enrich life.
What is grief?
There is nothing more natural than grieving as a response to loss. Ultimately it’s nothing but the emotional suffering one feels when someone or something one deeply loves is taken away from its life, so we usually associate grief with the death of a loved one, which is certainly the deepest and more usual cause for such suffering, but it can also be caused by any other cause of loss, such as the end of a relationship, the lowering of one’s health levels, the loss of a job or financial stability, watching one’s dreams being drowned in the waters of life, and countless other events that bring us the unfortunate feeling of loss. And the more relevant and significant the loss, the more overwhelming the grief will be, but it’s always up to the personal and utterly individual experience, for how one grieves is subject to the dependency of countless factors, such as personality and coping ability, life experience, faith, spiritual stability and growth, and the nature of the loss.
Healing will happen gradually and there’s no way to rush it or force it, nor an expectable grieving schedule. One should allow these feelings to mature and be absorbed with time, and for some it can take some weeks or months, but for others it can be an unbearable pain that lasts for years.
What is NOT grief?
Grief is not some disposable old furniture that one can simply sell at some antique store or just throw out in the garbage. It is the way we deal with a complete change in our reality when it suddenly turns upside down, and any good way for us to vent it should be exploited so we can be relieved from this clutch compressing the heart and soul.
An individual should never see his negative emotions, affects or any problems in life as a sign of weakness, but many people, especially men, do so. Grief is definitely no sign of weakness, but instead a way for us to pay tribute to the person who we deeply and sincerely loved, and a chance to express to ourselves and others how much the person we lost was – and will forever be – important in our lives.
How/When/What causes grief?
When our reality is shaken by a deep change and we face the fact that things will never be the same as they were, it can be very complicated to accept that in a positive way, even though we are certain that change is what brings the opportunity to find new perspectives and forms of joy we never though could exist. But the fact is that emotions can run stronger than reason in moments of despair, and we turn blind to the positive side that everything always has.
Grief can arise from many events, such as the death of a parent, a sibling, a child, a spouse or husband or even the loss of a job that was necessary for the family’s financial stability. Such losses need to be properly expressed and consumed, otherwise long lasting psychological and spiritual wounds can remain unhealed or leave scars that are forever visible in one’s heart.
What are its advantages/disadvantages?
When one can’t make grief take its course and go away, it can turn reality into an agonizing and soul-burning period that doesn’t seem to end, but maybe we just need to learn how to look at it in a more positive way and find ways to smile again.
Following a loss, it’s normal to feel shrouded in sadness, apathy and even anger, but as time takes its course all of these emotions should become less intense and more bearable, as loss begins to be accepted and one starts moving forward. If that doesn’t happen, one’s grief starts getting worse and developing into a much more serious problem, such as a depression or what’s commonly called complicated grief.
But one should never forget that nothing lasts forever, and one of the most important lessons in life is to always live each moment to its maximum extent, to absorb all there is from each experience, so that when it ends there is no feeling of sadness or regret, just joy from the amazing memories and lessons learned. In the end, death is just the other side of life, and is neither good nor bad, it just is. And every time something dies, life has the conditions to make something else be born, and we simply need to be open and able of embracing this new birth, this new change, and all becomes meaningful and divine once again.
What to do when you identify with grief?
There is nothing more important than having support from the people that we love, be it during the good or the bad moments of our lives. Even if sometimes we don’t feel very comfortable sharing with others all of our thoughts and feelings, during the bad moments of our lives such as the experience of grieving we should seriously open ourselves to the ones who love and care about us, for every burden that is shared is easier to be carried, so we must always accept grief and never experience it alone because sometimes the key for our own healing is in the hands of others.
In these moments we might become more aware of the spiritual world inside and around us because a loved one that once was touchable, now is a memory and we deeply hope that his soul is happy and in peace. If faith is questioned during these moments, we might feel absolute forsakenness so it’s important to seek spiritual guidance in whichever religious orientation or community we devote to.
When things go wrong
This is certainly the moment to take great care of yourself because the suffering that comes from a major loss can drain you from physical and mental energy and your emotional reserves might run lower than ever before, so to be aware of what your body, mind and soul are wishing for is key to get out of this hard time and find a new rebirth.
Nothing can be gained when one turns its back on his feelings, emotions or problems. It’s in facing all of these inevitable good and bad parts of life that the main element for healing resides. When one suppresses any of these layers of existence, nothing is really resolved and no progress is actually made.
Some people find comfort in expressing their feelings through a creative and effective way, such as writing what’s discomforting their souls in a paper, or even writing a letter to their loved ones expressing what they never had the courage or opportunity to say. Or why not to gather your favorite photos and make a scrapbook to cherish and pay homage to the person you loved?
If you loved so deeply someone you lost, it’s certain that you were loved by that person just the same, so always imagine how would that person feel if able to see you undergoing this sad moment in your life. The better you take care of yourself, the more you’ll respect that person’s wish of seeing you well and happy. Take good care of your health and remember that the body and mind always work as one, so exercise, get enough sleep and eat right so your mind nurtures itself as well. And meditate and focus on your inner-self so that your body can find the deep relaxation it’s certainly craving for.
Allow yourself to feel, to cry, to breathe life and turn grief into a respectful celebration of the person you loved.
Conclusion and final words
Take every grieving moment as a chance to learn to make the most out of every moment you are together with your loved ones, for only the certainty that we did all we could to give and receive love from the people around us can make us cope with the feelings of loss.
It’s the (sub)conscious awareness that more could have been done that haunts us after a loss, because if all that was possible happened, there’s nothing more to do than accepting fate and honoring our loved ones by grieving and remembering them with joy and peaceful enthusiasm.
Only a heart open to love can adapt to every change that stumbles upon its path because it shined and absorbed all the emotions and experiences that fate brought to it, so it’s always ready to accept and let go, but never to forget.