Grief is a funny thing. Not LOL; not “ha ha”; rather, grief has many different facets: different types of grief; ways we grieve; and reasons we grieve.
Recently my Dad died. My Dad was 90 years old, and he had been talking about dying. He stated that he was tired, lonely, and in pain. Life had become difficult for him, and his quality of life was not good. However, he was a stubborn man, who did not like change, and had a difficult time seeing decisions from different perspectives. We visited with him, listened to his complaints, shared about our life; enjoyed food together – even though he complained about that as well. I admit that I have had a mixed relationship with my Dad. He could be funny and entertaining, but he was also hard to live with. At the same time, he was my Dad; the person who was with me throughout most of my life. He knew my life story; he watched as I grew up and made my own decisions; and he stepped aside and let me lead my life as I had chosen. He wanted to know what I was doing, and he wanted me to know what he was doing.
And so, I grieve him. I grieve that he is gone; and that I will never see his gruff face – all covered in whiskers; I grieve that I will never hear his silly jokes, singing or speaking in rhyme. I grieve that I will not hear him say “I love you” one more time. Yet, I am also relieved that his suffering has ended. I believe he is in a safer place, and he is looking down with a smile on his face. And so, in this grief, there are mixed emotions of sadness and yet calm, knowing that his difficulties are over.
I have experienced other grief. The grief of letting go of dreams… the most difficult has been the expectations and hopes for my children. They are their own individuals. They have their own path, and choices to make. I wish, sometimes, that they would have followed my path closer. But they haven’t. So I grieve my expectations around what I had hoped they would accomplish – whether a different career; or a different lifestyle choice. I am sad… and yet I know that loving them is also empowering them to be their own person. Loving them unconditionally, and being able to stand beside them and say, “Well done, I am proud of who you are.”
I know there are so many different things we grieve – the expectation to retire at a certain age; the desire for continuing a career; the breakdown of a marriage; the hope for good fortune for our children; the loss of a fetus in pregnancy; the illness of a child. Unfortunately life doesn’t always follow as we hoped, and so we need to work through the loss in a healthful way, and move forward.
Many of us grieve in different ways; some experience the death of loss of a friendship, or job; and they become angry; and lash out. They are bitter and resentful for a time, and then they are just quiet. Or some of us are quiet right away; and there seems to be no sadness taking place… Others are very vocal and talk repeatedly about the loss they have suffered. They focus on the loss, and it becomes a long-term process. Others suffer in silence; they are sad, and share with a few people. But generally most do not know allow their loss to affect their ability to complete tasks, or live in hope.
So there are many different ways to grieve. And most are quite normal for that person. When is there reason for concern? When the person is having difficulty after several months, in letting go of the regular display and discussion about the grief; When the person is continually reminded and reminds others of their sorrow and sadness; When the person becomes depressed, and their functioning in regular life declines; when their relationships suffer, and their grief intrudes on healthy connection; when they become isolated and do not seek social contact; when they have lost hope, and have difficulty believing positive things will happen in the future. These are indicators that the person needs consistent and regular support for their grief.
Generally, all of us can benefit from talking with a therapist when experiencing grief and loss. Talking with a validating and nonjudgmental professional therapist assists you in making sense of the loss, dealing with the many emotions, and beliefs that arise when grief occurs. A professional therapist can ensure that you process the grief, develop new coping skills and healthy means of dealing with the loss. It may not mean you will need long-term therapy, but you will benefit by speaking with a professional and receiving support and coping skills to move forward, rather than becoming stuck.
Processing grief is helpful in developing a blooming life. Life is about loss, and revival. A Blooming Life incorporates positives and negatives together. A Blooming Life processes change.
May you bloom and grow.