Sadly, most people are already aware that loss is an experience and grief is the feeling it causes. What constitutes a loss and the grief that follows can only be defined by the one who is experiencing it. Certain experiences may be felt by some to not be “worthy” of grief or sadness. However, others may be highly attuned to losses as creating grief, at different levels. Compassion dictates that we never judge what others are experiencing relative to losses. And, honestly many people feel a sense of loss, and push that grief down instead of facing it. This is never healthy, and must not define how one judges another’s grieving process.
There are many types of losses. I just want to take a moment of your time, in this blog, to touch specifically on the loss of a loved one. Well-meaning as folks may be, comments like ‘you need to move on’, ‘you’ll get over it’, ‘you need to move forward’, are not helpful. The thing is that we know a lot more about grief than we used to. And, one very important thing we know for sure is that you don’t really ‘get over’ a grief/loss experience. Instead, the healthy response is that we learn to integrate it into our current life and our future. I’ve heard it described as you go on with your life, you feel better, but this experience and the relationship with the person is always running in the background – moving forward sometimes into the present – then retreating back. The loss of a loved one doesn’t mean that you get over them, or leave them behind as you move forward. Your feelings of love do NOT go away. I really want to affirm that! Please don’t expect a person you care about to leave those feelings behind – or don’t expect it of yourself, if you are bereaved. Instead, you learn how to love the person differently, realizing that they are no longer present physically, which requires a difficult emotional shift, as the emotions are present. If you are a friend or family of someone who has had a loss, please try to remember that it is very hard to still have that love and not know exactly what to do with it. If you are grieving, give yourself a break around this. Another common experience that goes against what conventional wisdom has previously offered is when grief is the toughest. It makes intuitive sense that it would be around holidays and such events. I am not saying that it never is; but, many people are okay during those times. It is some of the more mundane or life passages that kick up the sadness. Examples would be the changing of one season to another, the wedding of a friend or experiencing some sort of event of great happiness.
Allowing yourself to experience your grief, getting professional help to walk the path (if needed), and letting people into the process with you will help you as you take the journey of integrating this change into your life. And while you are doing this, make sure to practice self-compassion.