The Process of Loss and Grief

The Process of Loss and Grief

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image by John Hain
“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom” – Rumi
 
Grief is such a personal thing.
 
I have experienced the “aftermath” of grief as sharp yet tender …penetrating my very core while leaving a sensation of an internal sore bruise. The heartache.
 
Oftentimes, people are too quick to look at the positive side of losses and certainly this is noble and even necessary for personal growth, but being too quick to change, we do not give ample time to process the loss, thus no healing.
 
There actually is an in between loss and healing.
 
A trauma experienced, for example, is also loss and it needs time to grieve. Trauma is a deeply distressing and even disturbing experience. In adulthood, many people think they can overcome and attempt to move forward stoically, especially when the loss comes in forms of relationships.  I think back on a traumatizing situation that I endured. My trauma experienced was a family matter that unfortunately lasted a few years and neither by my desire nor my initiative. I was wrongly accused by a family member and then scapegoated. My reputation smeared in lies and deception, all because one relative didn’t get what she wanted and in the way she wanted it. In this story, there is grief: the loss of family, the loss of people so indifferent to the injustice that there was a loss of integrity and compassion. And there was loss in trust and loss among relationships affected negatively.
 
An aunt of mine just recently died and I found myself feeling the old sore bruise inside. Memories of what had happened to me and all the distress and confusion I endured came to the surface. Not as painful as it did when it was fresh, but such sadness overwhelmed me that I had to stop and rest. Rest and contemplate.
 
I realized that I had not really given myself the proper amount of time to process this family misfortune- unfortunately, I had been thrown in the lion’s Den far too long and only enough energy to manage the different beasts charging at me.
 
It matters not that you may have known or not, whether he or she, this or that was good, bad, unhealthy or honest for a short period of time…. because it’s still loss.
 
Do not allow your loss to flee without grief because without grief, any loss can manifest in inauthentic behaviors. Inauthentic behaviors do not have to be necessarily “bad” but they are not who we are, really. In the stages of grief, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (one of my heroes) mentions denial as one of the criteria to experiencing grief. It’s painful to admit to oneself what is truly happening, but remaining in denial is worse.
 
As adults we must learn to find healthy coping strategies for grief. As children, we were not taught how to manage grief and more times than not, this resulted in disassociation. This is why inner–child work/ therapy is imperative to the adult.
 
Some myths about grief I hear my clients and others say:
 

  1. “To mourn the loss that you feel inside yourself, you have to talk about it all the time.” You don’t have to talk about it all the time unless you feel the need to and in this case, a counselor or grief group may be a right fit for you. And if you have a personal development or life coach, discussing losses is mostly likely to be part of the coaching process anyway and in some form  or shape.  Grief doesn’t mean that you dwell in the past for that loss, but at the same time to not be surprised that periodically you will feel melancholy or as I described earlier “sharp yet tender inside”.
  2. “I don’t want to feel pain because it’ll never go away.” Grief is personal and there are ways to gently acknowledge it by allowing grief to come towards you. Allowing yourself to cry or feel sad is not a sign that you’re weak. It actually is a sign of strength and healing. It’s a sign of love for yourself. 
  3. “Your loss doesn’t change you and you need to just get over it.” Loss does change you. This is why people are reluctant to admit there is a loss in the first place. But, there is hope! Change is transformational and there are ways in which you can overcome and survive and create a more welcoming part of you that you may otherwise have not invited in. Loss, takes away but it always brings a personal gift.
  4. “ I cannot believe that it’s been years and I still feel a dull pain.” Grief takes time and there is NO time frame and depending the loss you’ve had, sometimes it just is. Think about some of the men and women that survived WWII. These survivors never forgot their dead comrades and after decades since the war, those living elderly military men, still weep for their loss and those who died for their country.  

 
My dear readers please be patient with yourselves as you uncover loss that hasn’t been properly addressed in your life. Losses are personal and no matter how small or large a loss, if you feel sadness or anger, allow yourself to process the experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in processing your loss.
 
Encouraging You to Live Authentically,
Sandra
 __________________

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Comments (6)

  • Avatar
    Rick

    Great article! My question is ” How do you prepare for loss of somebody you care for but who does not seek help for their illness, especially if you know their choice will lead to their demise? You will be questioning yourself with ” I should have did more” if you do nothing.

    December 5, 2017 at 7:18 am
    • Avatar
      Sandra

      Rick, you have a great question- an existential question! First, to prepare for loss is not only very personal, but I don’t know if one can prepare for a loss of great significance because what you may be looking for is of psychological form and many times we avoid grief. You have to accept that grief will be there and even though you may have tools and techniques to help you cope this doesn’t take away grief. . From your entire message, It sounds to me like the best thing you can do is work on you. We know from personal development that we cannot change others , only ourselves. Working on you/us means we benefit from looking deep at our triggers and fears around loss.

      What does this loss mean to you? When you tap into your fears or insecurities, what memories or trauma arises from your past? Many times we did not learn to manage grief and are more afraid of how the mismanagement felt like, then the actual grief if that makes sense. How can you live in the now and enjoy that person? It’s a matter of living NOW because that is all we have. We just forget that regardless of health or illness, we all ONLY have now.

      If you see this person suffer than try to still be there for them anyway because it is they who are making the decision to live or not, so to speak. In a previous blog I discussed moodiness and many of the “tips” could also be applied to accepting people right where they are whether we like it or do not. Sometimes it takes more courage and strength to hold that space of respect for others and their decisions than we think. Life has ways of showing us the true meaning of surrender- not giving up just surrendering to what is.

      There is so much more to write about this, however, I will refrain unless you have another question I am more than delighted to answer. Thank you for your candidness !

      December 8, 2017 at 10:58 am
  • Avatar
    Sheila

    Thank you Sandra. This was so very meaningful for me from the Rumi quote all the way through.

    Grief is so often swept under the carpet here in the U.S.A. In many other countries it IS experienced and expressed and honored, as a part of their culture.

    Parents cannot teach their children what they do not know. Yet it is never too late to learn, is it!
    Thank you again.

    December 5, 2017 at 8:06 am
    • Avatar
      Sandra

      Sheila, you are so welcome. I am happy that you found comfort in this email. As we see loss is not just physical death.

      Yes grief is swept under the carpet here in the USA. But, more frightening, we are becoming desensitized as a whole.

      I hope that these topics can be discussed more and this is why I discuss more taboo subjects in order to help others see that they are 1) not alone 2) They can help themselves because there are resources 3) discussing loss and grief is cathartic
      Thanks Sheila for your insights and concerns. Please share this article with anyone you may feel could benefit!

      December 6, 2017 at 7:42 am
  • Avatar
    Jordan Simon

    I personally believe that the loss and grief are the strange bedfellows. These 2 things are the part of everyone’s life. This loss and grief have different stages and the person who is lamenting does not necessarily experience the stages in the same sequence. Isolation, indignation, bargaining, moroseness, and acceptance are the different stages of loss and grief. Every individual weeps and wails differently. Thus, by understanding each stage you can know where you are and I think by hiring a life coach you can overcome all the stages successfully. Thanks for sharing such a unique and illuminating topic.

    December 28, 2017 at 4:45 am
    • Avatar
      Sandra

      Dear Jordan,

      Happy New Year and thank you for your contribution. You articulate so well your point and I can feel that you are familiar with the topic. You’re correct, everyone grieves differently and that is what needs to be spoken about- shared with others. Grief is such a personal thing. My hope is that we can open more discussions about grief and how to allow that process to take place in a world where people and things seem to go so rapidly. The stages are not the same sequence that is also correct. As humans we vacillate from one “stage” to the other and back. I hope to see you again on this forum! Blessings to you and thank you much.

      January 3, 2018 at 10:40 am

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