Embracing Grief and Loss

Embracing Grief and Loss

Being human means being vulnerable. We are sensate creatures meant to feel and emote. We typically prefer safety and routine and when we are forced to leave all things familiar and secure due to death or loss, we experience fear and grief. In fact, we may on any given day experience loss to one degree or another. These losses might be experienced as “big deaths” or “little deaths.” Based on an individual’s experience with past trauma, spiritual beliefs, social support and values, our losses are experienced on a spectrum. Some examples of loss include:

  • Suffering childhood trauma
  • Loss of love
  • Loss of beauty, fitness or youth
  • A difficult birth
  • A near death experience
  • Losing sexual potency
  • Losing one’s virginity forcefully
  • Experiencing a natural disaster
  • Immigration/refugee status/loss of culture/language/tradition
  • Losing a pet
  • Leaving home or a school or job
  • Losing a parent, sibling, friend or child
  • Losing faith in government, church, corporation

Grief is a psycho-spiritual process. The ego is shattered. Our sense of self becomes submerged in feelings of despair and sorrow. A part of us is lost, yet we often feel pressure from friends, family and society to get back to our old selves. Usually this is because there is an inability in our culture to tolerate someone else’s pain. Grief is not simple or finite and it manifests in a variety of ways:

  • Anticipatory grief
  • Normal grief
  • Delayed grief
  • Complicated grief (traumatic or prolonged)
  • Disenfranchised grief
  • Chronic grief
  • Cumulative grief
  • Masked grief

There is a stark beauty that can be found in surrendering to grief. By embracing it, befriending it, sitting alongside it, being curious about it, we can move through it to find a renewed sense of self. A self that is wiser, more empathetic and compassionate with a better understanding that the control we once thought we had was an illusion. All we really have is this moment. We can then consider, “How shall I use this moment, how shall I choose to live?” Through exercise, energy work, tending to the body, meditation, narrative therapy, trauma resolution therapy, group therapy, talk therapy and finding meaning in service to others we can create a new sense of self. A self that is more expansive yet understands the value of humility. We can then transition from grief to gratitude.

For additional information on grief and bereavement:
Healing Through The Dark Emotions by Miriam Greenspan
A Broken Heart Still Beats: When Your Child Dies by Mary Semel and Anne McCracken
The Way Men Heal by Thomas R. Golden