Grieving As A Natural Part Of Growing Up
Grieving As A Natural Part Of Growing Up
Nothing is potentially as painful as dealing with losing someone or something you love very dearly. Sadly, there is simply no way that you can escape from this experience. At one point or another, you have dealt or will probably deal with a situation where you are confronted with a loss.
Grief becomes a part of our lives even in our early childhood. Perhaps you had a favorite pet that you lost when you were small, and you remember crying for hours, in an almost uncontrollable manner. No one was able to console you and your world would never be the same. All losses leave a mark on our lives.
A natural consequence of this loss is that you end up grieving. You go through varying degrees of grief depending on the gravity of the loss; the more emotionally attached you are to the person or thing lost, the more intense and painful your grief becomes. Occasionally excessive amounts of grief can also lead to a dull sensation, in which our body enacts a safety mechanism in order not to completely shut down. While pain may not be felt as deeply, this is the most severe kind of grief.
In general, the following elements mark grief:
1. It Is An Unanticipated Thing —
Something That Throws You Off Your Loop
An unforeseen or unexpected loss often precedes grief or mourning. Even in cases where, say, a person is bed-ridden and whose breathing is only made possible through the help of machines, you still harbor a sense of hope, no matter how faint, that your loved one will make it. Those with family members who are suffering from cancer may fear losing someone. However, they won’t actually anticipate the actual loss. It is always unanticipated and will always leave a gap in their life. No one knows the day or the hour of their death.
If you consider people who deal with illness on a daily basis, suddenly there is this moment when that work has stopped. They don’t expect it. No one does. Thus it is the same for those who may be thought to have expected the event. It really is unanticipated even in those circumstances because human beings hold on to hope that something will happen that will make the situation better.
It is the unexpectedness of loss that can often throw a wrench into your plans. Imagine if everyone knew the exact time of everyone’s death. People would be planning for it from day one. Nothing would come by surprise. All the funeral arrangements, off time from work, money savings and other items would already be taken care of. Everything would be planned down to a tee.
But because nobody knows the time of death, our entire lives are thrown into chaos when it does happen.
Perhaps your loved one that has passed away lives in another country and you need to make arrangements to travel for a funeral. This means extra expenditures, time off work and canceling of all events you had planned for that time period. Most of us are creatures of habits and prefer change to happen slowly rather than overnight. Having to deal with all of these different aspects can make the grieving process even harder and place unnecessary strains on our relationships with those around us.
2. The Cause Of Your Grief Is Almost Always Something That You Did Not Inflict Upon Yourself
In most cases, forces beyond your immediate control cause the loss that you are grieving over. There is nothing you can do to prevent a friend from passing away, to prevent a beloved pet from perishing or to salvage a doomed relationship. In this regard, you may blame yourself. You may feel that you contributed to it, but no one does. It’s just your way of coming to terms with the loss. “If only” is your way of making sense of the situation and your part in it.
This idea that you somehow must have contributed to a loved one’s death is closely related to the inexplicable feeling of hope for life. Both of these feelings can be expressed with an “if.” If only they could make it through the next operation, then they will get better (hope). If only I had spent more time with them, maybe they could have held on (blame). Theorizing in this way is often a precursory coping mechanism. It gives us something to do, and it gives us hope to cling to. As to blaming one’s self for another person’s death, in time, most people come to realize that there is nothing they could have done to prevent it.
Of course, there are cases where you might actually be to blame. Perhaps you were driving a vehicle while intoxicated and hit another vehicle and the driver of that vehicle died. In this case, you will most likely feel grief, but you will also feel a deep sense of regret and self-loathing at the same time. This type of grief is much less common, but it is also more severe.
You may also feel a lot of anger, anger at God, anger at the person who has left you or even anger at the world. This is perfectly normal and you should not think that you are a bad person for feeling all of these feelings. It is what you decide to do with these feelings that counts.
3. It Is Something Marked By Pain And A Roller Coaster Of Other Feelings
Grieving without feeling any hint of pain is an oxymoron; pain is a natural consequence of grief, and grieving entails the acknowledgment of pain. People who refuse to deal with pain often resort to other things, such as denial of their circumstances or trying to get themselves busy doing other tasks to keep their minds off their loss. Those who stifle their pain may just do other things to try and avoid facing it head on.
The problem with doing this is that they avoid facing their grief and it has been known that people can bottle it up for years before it actually catches up with them. Therefore, even if you think you are carrying on and that you have avoided the pain – it is still there, waiting to happen. In one instance that I am aware of, a woman kept her grief inside for 19 years, avoiding it altogether until one day she just couldn’t stop crying. When she worked out what it was, she was able to attain relief that she had denied herself for all of that time. Thus it is better to let those feelings out.
A good indicator that you are bottling up your grief is that you feel a certain type of numbness and never acknowledge what actually happened. If somebody wants to talk about it, you immediately redirect the conversation to a different topic. You build walls around you so that other people cannot touch you in those painful places.
But you need to work through it in order to heal. Just like someone with a broken arm needs a doctor to inflict pain by setting the arm in order for it to heal. We need to work through our emotional wounds so that they can heal as well. If you harbor old wounds, it is best that they are brought out into the open otherwise, they will always be there in the background, causing pain.
4. The Pain Subsides Over Time
No matter how difficult it is to deal with a loss, such difficulty is bound to ease over time. The pang of pain will still be there, but it would not be as tough to bear as it did in its early days. This aspect of grief is very true. You are able to move on but you take your loss with you. The only difference is that when you have gone through the stages of grief which involve acceptance and moving on, you still feel the loss, but in a very different way. It doesn’t have to hurt any more. The scar will always be present, but the pain is no longer an open wound. It has healed, leaving its indelible mark on your life. It is at this stage that you are able to celebrate having shared the life of someone who has gone.
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Grief is usually associated with losing someone you love. You grieve because someone you used to have a close relationship with is gone or passed away. Note, however, that the notions of grief and loss are not necessarily restricted to the death of another person. In fact, other forms of loss that do not involve the death of another individual are necessarily followed by a period of grief, too. These include the following:
- 1. Losing a job
- 2. Having a divorce or suffering from a breakup
- 3. Suffering from a miscarriage
- 4. Losing a beloved pet
- 5. Losing a valuable possession, say, a house that you had to sell or a memento you have been keeping for years
- 6. Losing friendships
There are instances where people have an overdeveloped sense of grief. You should not be wounded to the core every time you accidentally drop a glass and break it or if you are not able to buy the luxury car that you want to because you do not have enough money. If little everyday mishaps cause you the same type of grief that significant losses like those mentioned above do, then it may be time to seek out professional help. As with many things in life, balance is the key. Grieving all the time or being incapable of grief can both be indicators of a bigger problem.
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Grieving over a loss may be hard, but as stated earlier, this is a natural, if inevitable, part of growing up. On the one hand, it makes you realize your own vulnerability, your own mortality even; on the other hand, it gives you the opportunity to strengthen your resolve and sport enough courage to come to terms with the way things are.
Grief isn’t easy to deal with when it happens, but if you know how to start moving forward, you will be able to minimize the grief and be able to live with it more easily. The denial stage is the most important to get past, and most people get past this when the funeral is held, because it’s no longer something that can be denied. The funeral helps greatly to quiet the mind as far as denial is concerned and gives people closure, though those who are close to the deceased will still go through months or even years of loss within their lives.
The problem is that society hides what should happen when we lose someone. We don’t talk enough about it and thus, when it happens, it’s even more of a shock to those who have to go through it. In science fiction, children were given lessons on death as far back as primary school and although it made sense to the writer, it does seem a little excessive. Children need to be children. However, they can be taught by what happens at the loss of a pet. They can be helped to understand and thus grow up with a better ability to go through the stages of loss when that happens in their adult lives.
Child grief is something entirely different. Children need to be able to talk and to have someone willing to listen, and even if it means employing professionals, sometimes this helps considerably in the case of a child. With death happening in the school and college arena these days, more and more kids are exposed to grief than is usual. Thus, letting children talk and listening to what they have to say is very important in this day and age.