Keeping It Real

Keeping It Real - Grief and Grieving - Clayton Lessor

Today as I began to write I was keenly aware I was sad.  What was I sad about?  It was exactly 2 years ago today that my father-in-law died, and I was sad.  That led me to my inspiration for this blog – grief and grieving.

By Definition

There are many definitions of grief, the one I like best is by The Grief Recovery Institute:

“Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind.  Of itself, grief is neither a pathological condition nor a personality disorder.  Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.”

Grief and Grieving

Being sad about the death of a loved one is only ONE of the many reasons we grieve.  I’m grieving for my poor little dachshund, Pinot who just had his third back surgery in under a year.  I know that he won’t have the lifestyle I had hoped for him.  I’m grieving the end of my academic journey as I complete my PhD studies (believe it or not!).  I grieve the passing of my stepfather last June on Fathers Day.  Life will be different.

Grief is part of life, an emotion that we must recognize, embrace and work through.  Keep in mind people grieve differently, some wear their emotions on their sleeve and others internally.  There is not a right or wrong way to grieve.  My advice, don’t delay the process by self-medicating or avoiding- that’s unhealthy.

Parents tell me on a regular basis that they’re sad because their child is changing and/or is not “who” they thought they would be.  I call this the “fantasy child” and remind parents the importance of grieving the fantasy to allow a child to be who they’re “meant to be”(authentic), maintaining age appropriate boundaries and limits.  I see partners grieving the loss of a relationship and all the hopes and dreams that came with it.  And the list goes on…

The Big Five

The five stages, in no particular order are:

  1. Denial and isolation
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining (the “if only” statements)
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Now if you are hoping for me to tell you how and what to do, it comes down to this.  The best thing to do is allow yourself to feel it as it comes over you, in a safe place with deep breaths.  It’s okay to cry.  Tears are your body’s way of releasing sadness, we(counselors) call them cleansing tears.  Each time you allow your tears to leave your body you are that much lighter with sadness and grief.  The good news is we don’t grieve the same piece(stage) twice.

Ultimately if you don’t deal with it you only prolong the healing process.

The Bottom Line

As difficult as sadness is, and I know it just as well as you, it’s important to honor the process.  Sure I’m sad today but I’m also taking this time to think about the many wonderful memories and how blessed I am to have them, which allows me to get to the joy!

Have you struggled dealing with grief?  Do you have comments to share?

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