Grief (and loss) comes in many packages:
- Some are normal unavoidable life events: loss of a loved one who lived a full life, loss of health/abilities as you age, etc.
- Some are the result of natural/unpreventable occurrences: illness, disease, natural disasters such as tornadoes or mudslides, etc.
- Some are the result of another person: death of a loved one by another person’s decision, various crimes, medical negligence, abandonment or rejection, adultery, conflict, divorce, war, etc.
- Some are the result of our deceased loved one’s personal choices: suicide, unintentional drug overdose, fatal accident such as drunk driving, etc.
- Some are the result of our own self: losing a relationship due to choosing to mistreat or cheat on someone, disability or illness due to personal negligence of health or well-being, foolish decisions, poor financial or business decisions, family/marital conflict due to our pride, etc.
There are also different timeframes of grief and loss:
- Some are temporary: being laid off at work, short-term illness or injury, separation, etc.
- Some are permanent: death of a loved one, permanent disability, divorce, etc.
- Some can be ongoing: family/marital conflict, health issues, mental illness, a family member’s rebellion or substance abuse, a rude boss that makes you hate your job
Grief and loss ALL have one thing in common: no matter the situation, each circumstance breaks the heart, and attempts to break the spirit, of the one going through grief or loss.
Each person has to take an inventory of their own grief and do what they feel is best. I personally think that as long as someone isn’t hurting other people or themselves, their grief is healthy and appropriate.
If we fail to take an inventory of our grief, we (by default) plan to become stagnant and stunted in our grief. Being stunted destroys our growth…and being stagnant causes us to become detached.
What stunts us in times of grief? Caring what other people think. Not wanting to deal with it. Turning to substances or addictions. Making sure we stay overly busy. Becoming extreme people pleasers.
But. it. is. there. Grief doesn’t magically go away.
When we deny our right to feel what we need to feel or we choose to not go through grief the way we need to individually process it, we cheapen our grief…and worse, we stunt any growth we could experience from the situation.
And there is growth a griever can experience…and there are lessons one can learn through every situation they face in life…good and bad.
Grief and loss are too personal to allow someone to tell a griever how to process their loss. EVERYBODY…and EVERY SITUATION is different.
And grief isn’t something to be put away in a closet, high up on a shelf, neatly out of sight…or putting a permanent “game face” on just to make other people more comfortable.
If a griever is ever going to find genuine relief from their grief, it has to be addressed. And grievers need to address it because it can affect so many other aspects of life: marriage, relationships, work, health, etc.
It is far better to have 6 months (or however long) of genuine, real, messy grief that you truly work through than to go through the rest of life wounded or having to wear an artificial game face.
Authentic grief is going to look different for each griever. What works for one griever may not work for another griever.
There are 7 BILLION different ways to grieve…a unique style to each griever on earth.
Make a list. Ask yourself what your convictions are. Seek to see what you truly want out of life. Ask God to reveal His purpose for your life (we ALL have a life purpose). Find any silver lining you can out of grief (not always easy…but usually can be found with hard work. Not always but usually.)
What personally works for me during times of grief is:
- Drawing close to God
- Being true to my spouse, child(ren), family, and myself
- Grieving how I need to grieve
- Choosing to be kind to everyone
- Taking good care of my health & wellness (grief can cause lower immune system functioning)
- Choosing not to neglect remaining loved ones (this can be difficult while going through grief but I have seen many people lose or damage relationships with their spouse and children which later adds to their loss and heartache. I always try to keep this in check for myself.).
- Being honest with God and myself (can be messy at times but I grow through it)
- ASKING family & friends for what I need if I need something (this prevents MANY hurt feelings or the all-too-common feeling of “nobody cares” while going through grief)
- Choosing to be grateful (finding 5 people and 5 things to be grateful for every morning and evening)
- Enjoying life (many grievers think this a weird one…but “life” is still going to happen and I can’t buy back time. Life’s “clock” doesn’t stop ticking just because I am sad or I am going through a tough event. Grief takes away so much…it’s a personal conviction of mine that life is still a gift and I’m going to unwrap that gift every single day. Grief takes enough from me…it’s not going to get my “life” too.)
Find out what “authentic grief” means to you.
Nobody wants to be permanently stuck in the vortex of grief. Use times of grief to find out who you are…and who you truly want to be.
Allow your authentic grief to teach you life lessons and allow the incredible growth from life’s events to make you a better person.
Oftentimes, it is out of the positive and negative reels of life when we fully “process,”…becoming a better person…and “develop” an authentic life.