I think of grief as the normal and natural healing process from a loss. There are many forms of loss, including, loss of a pet, health, home, finances, dreams and hopes, motivation, Self, addiction, social status, time, and, of course, death of a loved one. Any time you experience loss you may undergo a grief process as you heal from this new experience in your life. Also, it is important to remember that this grief process can also often accompany healing from transitions in your life that are considered enjoyable and happy, such as graduation, marriage, birth of child and retirement.
When you experience a transition you are actually undergoing a grief process of redefining yourself and stepping into the new person you are becoming due to that loss or change in circumstances. Many people are familiar with and refer to the Kübler-Ross stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. These are actually phases that you move in and out of throughout your lifetime. The difficult part of grief to conceptualize is that it is not a linear process and we often jump from one phase to another and/or be in many phases at once.
Grief is not the flu that we can check off a box and “be over it.” Grief changes over time and it is very individualized and very personal. When there is a loss in your life and the definition of who you used to be has changed, a piece of you has died and the grief process is that “rebirthing” or redefining yourself even though you may not particularly wish to be redefined.
There is often resistance to step into the new shell of yourself and many people get caught in the resistance and find addictive behaviors to help soothe the pain of the loss. However, external and instant gratification rarely brings solace; the primary loss is still there and even more losses may be caused due to the negative behaviors. Instead, be conscious of your grief process and seek support in healthy ways. Allow your loss to be seen, heard and valued by yourself and others. This way of honoring your loss will ease your journey to health and let you find your true potential.
I wish you well on your journey to healing and until next time, take care.
Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing. Direct any questions to Ted Wiard, LPCC, CGC, founder of Golden Willow Retreat and Clinical Supervisor for TeamBuilders Counseling at (575) 776-2024 or GWR@newmex.com