Loss and Grief
Grief is the natural healing process we go through when someone we love dies. The sorrow that comes with death can be one of the deepest feelings of emptiness and profound pain we may ever experience. While grief is usually associated with the death of a loved one, there can be many other difficult changes and challenges that occur throughout our life when we experience loss and will grieve.
When you grieve but it is seen by others as not important and is downplayed, you may experience disenfranchised grief. There are many significant changes that occur during our lifetime where we can experience this type of grief and we may not even be aware ourselves that we are grieving. Sometimes we can be either too ashamed or embarrassed to seek support.
Many losses can alter the quality of our life, loss of health, an accident or illness causing disability to ones self or a family member, the loss of a job, business failure, bankruptcy, or any of life's goals where we feel we have failed.
We may yearn for what once was but will never be again. The end of a chapter in our lives, children leaving home, menopause, retirement, moving house and leaving family and friends, divorce or the end of any relationship.
There may also be times when we feel we don't have the right to grieve. When a mother gives her child up for adoption, termination of a pregnancy or where the cause of death is seen to be socially unacceptable such as drug overdose, suicide or AIDS.
When an elderly person dies it is often seen by society as less traumatic as the death of someone younger, therefore those who are grieving are left feeling that their loss is not a significant one and they should be over it sooner.
Every loss needs to be acknowledged. Acknowledgment somehow makes the loss easier to bear and it is important to have people around who are supportive and will listen in a non judgemental way. Grief is a response to loss. We all have the right to grieve and express our pain regardless of the type of loss or how it occurred.
The death of a pet can be devastating to many people; pet grief is not seen to be as a significant loss in our society. This often leaves people reluctant to express their grief but researchers now believe that the death of a pet has similar or even equally intense emotions as the death of a loved one. It is important to allow time to grieve and the same care, understanding and acknowledgement should be given to those who are grieving the loss of a pet.
Anticipatory grief is a grief we often do not speak about. We keep it to ourselves. It is what we experience when a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Our thoughts are then occupied with the impending death as we struggle to come to terms of a life without our loved one. What we feel is often similar to the grieving process that occurs after the actual death. It can be said we have been given the gift of time to resolve any regrets and to say our goodbyes yet the down side to this is to watch someone we love suffer and struggle with dying, this can be an emotional rollercoaster. Anticipatory grief does not mean you will not grieve after the death and does not make it any less painful.
Complicated grief is usually where the natural grieving process is blocked due to the way that a love one has died, suicide, murder, a fatal accident. Any sudden unexpected death that is not the natural cycle of life such as the death of a child, to witness the death or find the deceased, can compound the grief even more. There can often be a feeling of isolation with these deaths, a feeling of being avoided or judged. The bereaved may carry with them feelings of guilt and thoughts of 'if only'. Complicated grief can also arise when a death has occurred and family members have not spoken for sometime. The grieving process with complicated grief can often be prolonged where the bereaved has difficulty working through their thoughts and emotions. There may be times where professional help or counselling can help the bereaved.
Miscarriage is sometimes said to be the silent grief. It is a loss that affects so many yet is rarely talked about. To have suffered a miscarriage can be devastating no matter at what stage the pregnancy was. It is often felt the grief is minimised as there was no funeral. When a woman experiences a miscarriage she will go through the same stages of grief as one does with the death of a loved one. The length of her pregnancy does not determine the depth of grief.
It is said that the natural grieving process will go through various stages and we will experience many different reactions during this process, both physical and emotional. But how we grieve is determined by many factors, circumstances surrounding the loss, the relationship to the deceased, our cultural upbringing, our beliefs, the support network around us, our personality and how we generally cope with life's daily stresses. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. No two people will grieve the same and just as each of us is a unique individual, so too will our grief be unique.
"Hope is Grief's best music"
This site is for information and support only, not a substitute for professional advice.