Dealing with Grief and Loss
By: David Lechnyr, LCSW
Grief and loss happens over time and involves one going through a number of feelings from denial to overwhelming sadness. We may go through the various stages but they do not happen in order. This can leave us bewildered, confused, and feeling trapped.
The process of grief over a loss is known to take much longer than was thought at one time. Some types of grief only last for brief periods of time when we are not strongly bonded to a particular person. When the loss is very personal to us it take a much longer time for it to resolve. Each of us experiences grief in different ways. What upsets some does not affect others in the same ways. At other times the experience is totally reversed.
At times grief gets more complicated because of unresolved issues related to the loss. For example, thee loss of a close loved one actually offers us a time to examine, and experience, those issues that we had previously kept from our consciousness. However, we must feel in order to heal rather than trying to do everything to avoid these feelings. Wishing the emotions would just go away ends up only delaying the grief and making the experience ultimately more difficult.
Grief Connects us to our Loss
Research has finally come to realize that the process of grief lasts much longer than we had expected. Some find that they are functioning better after a year yet find themselves beset by “waves of grief and emotions” that over-take them without notice. These “waves of emotions” can be overwhelming and filled with sadness. At the same time “the waves” offer us a time to “re-experience our lost relationships” and think them through as part of resolving some unresolved issues.
In a sense, grief is a connection to the person or experience that you have lost. Many people find themselves experiencing these “waves of connection” ten or more years later and longer. In many ways, these “connections” are what makes us human and allow us to “experience” our lives. We can come to value these connections because they keep those important people in our lives even after they are gone. In some ways grief researchers have suggested that we come to cherish these “waves of connection” as something special in our lives. It says you are a human being who cares.
We grow through people and our relationships. Why would you want to let go of that completely. Our history is what we are made of. It is for this reason that we many times like to have personal belonging of the one we have lost. They become valuable because they remind us of that person. When we “experience the waves” that come without warning, we can come to know that we have had a special person in our lives.
It is also what Freud it “the working through process.” The way we resolve things is by working it through over and over again as part of “moving on” to new levels in our lives. We can’t avoid it, even though it hurts. Actually, psychologists and counselors worry about those people who don’t grieve. Having feelings and experiencing the emotions of life is normal.
Grieving can be painful, but it is part of the growth process and a requirement for being, ultimately, human.