The Process of Loss and GriefSandra Rojo
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:
- “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”.
- “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.
- “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.
- “ 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,
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