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What is Grieving Anyway

Woman on Beach Looking at OceanWhen we have lost a loved one, we are usually given a couple of days off from work to grieve. But then we are expected to resume life as usual.

When a loss is not associated with an actual death, there is no time off. We are faced with working through our loss while continuing to work.  

Losses that have not been grieved become buried in our unconsciousness. But the next time we suffer a setback or loss, they scurry back from the place we buried them and demand attention.

Grieving our losses isn’t some sad time we spend feeling sorry for ourselves. Grieving is active work that enables us to put our loss to rest. Here are some things to consider about grieving:

Grieving is

• Coming to terms with what has happened – making sense of it

• Working through the tangles of emotions and thoughts

• Working through the questions so we can let go of them even if we don’t have answers

• Finding a way to express what we are experiencing. Journaling, sharing, creating an art project, quiet time reflecting, writing a letter of goodbye, etc. are some ways to heal.

• Validating your journey – give yourself permission to grieve. Emotional wounds require healing just as physical wounds.

• Work through the many layers associated with your loss.

• Grieving includes spending time answering the questions: who was I? Who am I today? Who do I want to become tomorrow? It is where we plan our next steps.

• Stepping out and finding ways to make life meaningful again. It may be difficult, but rewarding. 

Grieving is not

• Feeling sorry for yourself. When we feel sorry for ourselves we want to nurse our hurt feelings. When we are grieving, we want to share our pain so we can let go of it and heal.

• Trying to “get over” it. Life will not be the same. Grieving is healing, integrating and replacing.

• Doing things one particular way. We are all different. Take from examples and suggestions and then apply what works for you

• Going through predictable stages. While we may experience similar things, grief is never predictable or associated with a time limit. 

• Retreating into solitude. While we need those times alone to sort things out, we also need the support of others. Retreating can at some point leave us isolated, lonely and depressed

The lists above reflect grieving a major loss we often associate with the death of a loved one.

However, when we lose our jobs, lose our financial stability, lose our ability to earn a living, lose an expectation such as a marriage, or a long sought after dream, these are losses that need to be grieved. Grieving allows us to put our energy into creating a new reality and a new beginning.

©2013 Marlene Anderson

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