What exactly are grief and loss?
Grief includes the feelings or experiences about the loss of something in your life. Sometimes loss means death of a loved one. Other times, loss refers to a life change. After this change, or loss, you can feel grief. Grief can be triggered by a variety of circumstances, but the feelings associated with loss are universal for many. Loss could include:
- Death of a loved one, such as a spouse, parent, friend, or pet
- Adjusting to your or a loved one’s illness
- Feeling unsafe in your environment
- End of a relationship or friendship
- Change in job status or finances
- Infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth
- Disabilities of any kind
Grief forces you to see the world differently in the blink of an eye. The idea that one moment can change your life forever becomes a painful reality when you experience loss. Whether the loss was sudden or expected, nothing can prepare you for the grief that comes along with loss.
Loss leaves an unfillable void
Loss can make you feel as though you’re walking through life with anchors attached to your feet. The world seems different; you feel lost and unsure of how to cope. All you know is that you want nothing more than to go back (or forward) in time, even if only for a minute. If this is your first time experiencing loss, you wonder how you could possibly get through this. If you’ve experienced loss before, you might feel like you don’t have the strength to go through yet another loss.
The initial shock of loss is often followed by a disbelief of what is happening. Your mind goes in circles, thinking…
- This isn’t fair.
- How can this be happening?
- Will I be able to survive this?
- Why is this happening to me?
- I don’t know how to handle this.
- How am I supposed to go on living life?
Inconsolable Grief Can Take Over Your Life
You wonder how life can ever be the same again. The realization of your new reality can be shocking, painful, and scary. As the initial shock of loss begins to subside, grief begins to creep into your heart. Grief can bring to the surface a slew of messy emotions such as:
- Inconsolable sadness
The right way to grieve
Grief following loss is a messy process. As you may have already found, there is no “How To” guide for surviving grief. Some days you feel okay and other days you can barely function. Grief can manifest itself physically by impacting…
- Muscle aches
- Physical activity
- Appetite and weight
The process is different for everybody. There is no one right way to grieve. Grief is like the ocean, where emotions come and go in waves. Coping with grief is much like learning how to swim; it takes time and practice to build strength over time. You learn what works for you and what doesn’t.
Grief counseling can help you process and better understand the loss you’ve experienced. Grief counseling can also help you find a new “normal” (when the time comes). Finding strength and hope is possible with the right support, guidance, and an understanding of how to live this new version of your life. You don’t have to leave your feelings in the past to be able to move forward.
Let’s not focus on “moving on”, but rather “moving forward” while keeping love in your heart.