Grief is a normal and human response to loss. That does not mean that it feels natural or normal! Grief is often intensely painful. The death of a loved one is one of life’s most profound losses, but there are many other types of losses that also impact day-to-day life. Changes in health, employment, family finances, parenting challenges, miscommunication, stress in intimate partner relationships are all examples of transitions with potential losses that are woven info daily life. Grief manifests itself in many ways: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social. It may be helpful to remember that grief is a process. A new loss often triggers previous losses (even those from many years ago). Aspects of the grief process may feel like being on an emotional roller coaster. There is no time table for grief (despite a societal culture that often rushes the healing process, minimizes the impact of the loss, or compares losses). The grief process towards healing is not linear. There will be ups and downs, stops and starts, steps forward and back (and sometimes, “back some more”) as healing takes place. The intensity and frequency of the acute pain of grief transforms as the loss and its meaning are integrated into daily life. Several years ago I facilitated a support group of bereaved adults who were each grieving the death of a loved one as well as other concurrent life transitions. Their hearts were understandably heavy. Their strength and courage were apparent, even in the midst of their pain. The following are several lines of a poem I shared with the group as encouragement. Please know that you are not alone. To A Grieving Heart. Kindness can take many forms to a grieving heart. Quiet gifts, really. A smile, a touch, a hug, a word of support. A thoughtful act freely given, listening with the heart, an understanding of pain not yet spoken. Reminders of the universality of grief; reminders of the human face of grief. Reminders of how you are cared for, how much you are supported, how much you are loved.
April 15, 2010