Very often, grief and loss are associated with the death of a person. We identify with all that comes with death. For instance, an automobile accident occurs, a family member loses a battle to cancer, or we lose a friend to suicide. When these storms hit, we instinctively understand that grief is part of that process. We go through the motions by tending to the funeral and attempting to adjust to our new life without them. We try to heal. Unfortunately, our culture does not deal well with grief. The message is clear. Either directly or indirectly, we understand that crying shows weakness...except at funerals...then it is expected. But once the funeral is over...back to normal.
What we fail to realize is grief comes in many forms. We may have lost that person but we lose so much more. We lose our sense of who we are in the world since our life is forever altered. We lose any further time with that person...holidays and special times will never be the same. A spouse may sense a loss of security and maybe even financial stability. Children who lose a parent may feel insecure in who they are since their connection to the world is gone. Parents who bury their child lose a sense of order in the world. While the initial loss comes when someone dies, the rippling effects can seem never ending.
What is even more interesting is, grief can come without the physical death of a loved one. There are many reasons to experience loss. For example, the loss of a job can be devastating, or one may experience grief with the breakup of a relationship, even if it is for the best!!! We may even grieve moving to a new neighborhood or town. Again, it may be a good change, but we grieve nonetheless.
While we need to recognize the physical loss of our loved one, it is important to acknowledge all forms of grief. If you are grieving, identify and nurture all losses, and remember that there are no time limits. Grief is consuming and as exhausting as climbing a mountain. It takes work to get to the other side of healing. But the work must be done...there are no shortcuts!!!