Grief and Loss

grieving man

Throughout the course of our years, we all experience a loss at some point in our lives. In fact, statistics show that 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them before 18 years of age. Feelings of grief and loss are not always associated with death, however, but commonly surface after a loss of some kind – whether it is the loss of a loved one, a severed relationship, a pregnancy, a pet, or a job.

When a person loses something or someone valuable to them, feelings of grief can be overbearing. Grief can leave a person feeling sad, hopeless, isolated, irritable, and numb by affecting them mentally, emotionally, and physically. It’s important to understand that healing from grief is a process and everyone copes with this emotion differently.

Grieving has four "tasks" which allow a person to process their deep feelings of loss. The mind initially finds it impossible to experience what life is and will be like without the person who has gone. As with anything, when the mind is confronted with something it has never experienced, it tries to find a way to understand it by returning to it again and again. This process can take a long time, depending on the depth of loss. Accepting that a person who was part of our everyday life is gone can create feelings of being in a bad dream from which a person can't awake. 

The four tasks of grief are:

  1. Accept the reality of loss
  2. Express and experience the pain of loss
  3. Create routines without the person who has gone
  4.  Find ways to hold on and let go

Grief counseling or grief therapy can be done in groups or within individual psychotherapy with a grief therapist. Groups can provide an environment where a person can feel they aren't alone with their feelings and struggles. The group experience, however, isn't for everyone. Some people prefer to work through their grief with a therapist who can assist them in processing through their difficult feelings. 

Through psychotherapy, a patient may:

  • Improve coping skills
  • Reduce feelings of blame and guilt
  • Explore and process emotions

In the book, "Nine gifts for a grieving friend" by Elaine A. Malec, PhD, there are 7 common questions people who are deeply grieving often ask. Here is one of those questions....

 #7 Although I’m sad and lonely and miss my loved one so bad, I'm afraid to feel better. I kinda’ think feeling better is sort of disloyal or like I’m forgetting them. “How can I want to feel bad?”

On the surface, this may sound like nonsense, but it is more common than you realize. There is almost a fear that there is something disloyal about feeling better. The feelings of sadness and missing someone is what we experience when we have a deep love and connection

with someone. If we don’t feel devastated, will it suggest or imply that we really didn’t care as much as we thought or that the love we had wasn’t as strong for us? The feeling that we can’t feel better because it might cause us to “forget” the person can cause real anxiety for many. Adjusting to being without will happen slowly and gradually, but wanting to be without someone will not happen: ever.......

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