Grief can be a lonely experience
The death or loss of a loved one, especially a beloved parent, spouse, or child, is one of the most profound losses humans can experience. Research shows that there is no set pattern of mourning. While some people never get over a loss, others do not mourn at all. Clinical lore states that 13 months is an appropriate time to get over a loss, because of the re-triggering of grief on the anniversary date. However, in reality, the appropriate time depends on the type of loss, whether it was expected or unexpected and traumatic, whether the deceased was young or old, how much suffering was witnessed, whether they lived a happy or unfulfilled lives, took care of themselves and others, or were abandoning and self-destructive?
One's relationship with the deceased makes a difference too. Was there a chance to say "goodbye" and find peace with the person? Was there an opportunity to forgive and be forgiven? Abuse, neglect, separation, harsh words can continue to sting when the person is gone. If the relationship was loving, finding ways to express one's pain and love and honor the good qualities of the person can be healing. It is also important to find support among the living. Community, family, and friendship connections reassure us that life goes on and help us to re-engage with life, as the deceased would want us to do.
Below are some quotes to comfort and inspire us in this difficult process.
The Importance of Expressing our Feelings
Grief is a normal and natural response to loss. It is originally an unlearned feeling process. Keeping grief inside increases your pain. - Ann Grant
"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?" -- Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)
Allowing children to show their guilt, show their grief, show their anger, takes the sting out of the situation. Martha Beck
Individual Responses to Grief
Grief can't be shared. Everyone carries it alone. His own burden in his own way --- Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Can I see another's woe, and not be in sorrow too? Can I see another's grief, and not seek for kind relief? --- William Blake
"And can it be that in a world so full and busy the loss of one creature makes a void so wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth of eternity can fill it up!"-- Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
Grief is the price we pay for love ---- Queen Elizabeth II
The Importance and Rewards of Grieving
After the tears, we hope to find peace
Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind --- Marcel Proust
"We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey". -- Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933)
"The pain passes, but the beauty remains". --Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
"Mourning is one of the most profound human experiences that it is possible to have... The deep capacity to weep for the loss of a loved one and to continue to treasure the memory of that loss is one of our noblest human traits".-- Shneidman (1980)
In the end, love and grief are intertwined; we can't have one without the other. Grieving involves confronting the totality of our relationship with the person, along with all of our many and conflicting feelings; holding onto the good memories & joyful moments, grieving for what was and what wasn't and what could never be. At the end of grief, should come comfort, peace, and meaning. Sadness can remain but be diminished. A resolve to honor the memory of the person and bring aspects of their good character and qualities into one's own life helps to heal the pain.
Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, life coach, and expert on life change, health psychology, integrative & behavioral medicine, chronic stress and pain, who has published her own research in academic journals. Previously a Professor, she is now an influential practicing psychologist, speaker, and media consultant.
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