Grief is the psychological landscape we experience when we perceive a permament loss.
We will experience this several times during our lifetime.
Grief follows after the loss of a person deared to us ( death or relationship breakdown), loss of status ( losing job, reputation or wealth) or loss of a positive outlook about world around us (news, tragic events).
It is linked to depression and their symptoms are similar but the main difference between them is that grief comes from a loss that can be quickly identified, whereas depression can have a more complex and abstract origin.
Understanding how to deal with grief will allow us to move through it faster and without getting stuck in its density.
Grief changes our energy and focus, to allow our psyche to process the shock, pain and our perspective of life.
Just like if we break our bone, our physiology and stamina will change to allow the necessary recovery, grief is similar process in that we need to adjust to it and give it time (bereavement) to regain balance.
There are 3 very important tools to deal with grief:
1- Understanding the stages of grief:
What we can understand, we can anticipate and prepare for, it will not shock us and is less likely to overwhelm us.
Grief have 6 stages that can be seen in the image below:
Each stage is characterised by the emotions the person is likely to experience. We will move through this stages but not only in a linear sequence (as how we finish one chapter of a book then we move to the next), but rather we are likely to go back and forth between different stages, while simultaneously progressing linearly.
2- Finding ways to feel and express
The more we can feel and express each stage´s emotions, the more likely we are to progress across them.
By feeling and expressing, thoughts and feelings are processed and matured. The more we do this consciously and strategically the less those emotions will be haunting us. Emotions try to enslave us when we reject them.
Some of those ways are talking to someone we trust, , journaling, art or physical release (such as crying, dancing or punching a bag).
What we allow ourselves to fully feel, we can then fully accept. When we do this we can tap into the message our emotions carry (e/motions are energy in motion) and question if that message can be true or not, this questioning leads to the third tool...
3-Redefining meaning and reengaging with our lives:
As we feel the painful emotions and clarify their message we will then face a temporay crisis in meaning.
How do I live now? What matters now? How can I be motivated again?
If we take time to connect with feelings , and are patient with ourselves we will find renewed clarity about what is important for us now. That is the time to reengage with life again and to redefine our understanding of it and which are our priorities from now on. This presents finally positive emotions of serenity and empowerment, rooted in engaging with a new found purpose.
Grief has similarities with depression in that they imply unpleasant emotions, these are desiged to slow us down and move us towards contemplation and reflection. This is a requirement to understand something better and to reorganize the live we are living.
Many people come out at the other side of grief having developed religious, spiritual beliefs or a better picture and commitment to their purpose. Also after grief-resolution we clarify our identity and what we most value in others and in life.
Grief implies the psychological equivalent of a physical wound. Recovery involves time as a broken bone would. However grief adds the complexity of emotional abstraction and permanent loss. When we understand what to expect and how to process grief we can navigate through it expecting to reach better ports.