Grief can mean a lot of things. Sometimes it’s losing someone you love. Sometimes it’s not having life go the way you thought it would. Sometimes it’s about an old pain that haunts you from a loss of long ago. Sometimes grief is the sadness that comes from realizing what could have been, but never was…..If you’ve ever been divorced, gone through a separation, ended a relationship, lost a parent or child, or had a sad childhood, then you have been visited by grief. Loss can show up in so many ways.
Grief is an important emotion. It occurs for a reason and needs special attention. It’s the part of you that says, “I did not want that, now I have to adjust to the reality of what is and not what I thought would be.”
Grief can be messy, complicated, and unpredictable…..it can be a unique experience for each of us. To talk about it will require some framework, some sort of system to at least identify the main emotions and their importance. Elizabeth Kubler Ross designates five main stages of grief. That doesn’t mean that a person can only experience grief within these stages, but it does help identify some of what a person goes through.
5 Stages of Grief:
Denial – unable to accept, wrap your head around the reality of the loss
Anger – angry, not accepting the loss, though you are aware of the loss
Bargaining – making deals to try to change what has happened/hasn’t happened
Depression – feeling the deep sadness of the loss, feeling unmotivated
Acceptance – understanding the scope and ramifications around the loss, what it means for you personally, knowing you are at peace with the loss
There are deeper, more intricate details of grief within these stages. Also, they don’t necessarily occur in order. It’s a natural process that is especially designed for you, for us. We love, we hope, we lose, and we grieve, and then grow from there. At least we hope that is what happens.
But what if that doesn’t happen? Not recognizing grief can cause other issues and challenges. Misplaced anger, implosive or explosive anger, long-lasting depression, distancing, emotional shut-down….there are a number of ways the brain can decide to allow the pain to “leak out” or resolve itself one way or another. Sometimes pain killing can become part of the routine of someone’s life. To remain distracted from unresolved pain requires work. This could include medications, alcohol, being too busy, addictions of any kind that help distance oneself from feeling grief and loss. Not grieving influences relationships with others, causing withdrawal and anger issues, pushing others further away.
If all these feelings around grief are going on inside of you, it becomes difficult to maintain healthy and connected relationships with the people you love. So take the time to do what you need for yourself. Grieve a little, live a little, it’s okay to be sad for whatever you feel you have lost. You are worth the grief to grieve what you lost, so you can grow. So go ahead, grieve.