What is Grief?

Grief is the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual process we as humans go through when we have lost someone or something that we love. Grief is complex and personal. Unfortunately, grief is also inevitable, because death and loss are inevitable. Grief is more than just the feeling of sadness after a loss. Grief is the entire journey of learning how to live in a world where we no longer have the person or thing that we loved so dearly. According to researcher and author Joanne Cacciatore, “Grief and love mirror each other; one is not possible without the other” (Cacciatore, 2017, p. 2). In other words, the only reason we grieve is because we have loved. 

Something important to know about grief, and about life in general, is that the only way out is through. Put differently, grief needs to be felt in order for healing to happen. Sadly, we live in a world that often tells us to forget about and “get over” our grief. But as long as we refuse to face the pain of our loss, it will remain inside of our heads and hearts and continue to cause suffering. Unprocessed grief can come out in many ways: addiction, chronic depression, and intense anger to name a few. Not only is it healthy for us to face and process our grief, but we deserve to face and process our grief. We deserve to feel the fullness of our loss, we deserve to honestly and openly experience the pain of having someone or something we loved ripped away. This pain is the normal and healthy response to our loss. 

Something else to consider about grieving is that we often fear facing the pain of grief. We fear that the grief will swallow us whole if we allow ourselves to feel it. Although feeling our grief is devastating and overwhelming at times, I am here to remind you that humans are incredibly resilient. We are capable of handling more suffering than should be possible or allowed. We don’t deserve this suffering, but we can survive it, and even thrive again someday. One final note on grieving, is that it looks different for every single person. There is no timeline telling you when you should be done grieving. In fact, grieving often lasts for the rest of our lives in some way, usually in a more manageable way as time progresses. 

Over the next several weeks, I will be providing further information and insight into grief (what it looks like in our lives, how it looks different during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how to find ways to support yourself and others during times of grief). Next week, we will specifically be diving into the different types of losses other than death that we experience as humans. If you are ready to venture on this journey with me, and learn more about grief, I have one challenge for you: be excessively gentle with yourself. Give yourself permission to cry, to weep, to take a break, to rest, and to remember that you are not alone in your pain. Let’s learn and heal together. I do a great deal of grief work with my clients, It is an honor to walk alongside my clients as they navigate through their grief and heal. 

The counselors at Altitude Counseling are here to support you. Request an appointment today

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