Grief is the natural human process of adapting to change, loss, and death. It includes a very wide range of emotions, thoughts, and experiences that occur when someone or something you care about is damaged, changes, ends, or dies. Common sources of grief are the injury, illness, or death of loved ones, including family, friends, leaders, and pets. Other common sources of grief are major changes, transitions, and losses related to work, school, health, and relationships, such as losing a job, separating from a partner, divorce, injury or illness, losing or changing jobs, changing schools, or experiencing loss, difficulty, or suffering at school.
While grief is a normal and natural process that is an essential part of being human, our society is often more comfortable discussing happiness and celebration rather than discussing difficulties like pain, loss, and grief. As such, people are often equipped with more tools for dealing with happy times and celebrations than for dealing with difficulties, pain, and losses. However, we can all learn more useful ways of dealing with the life difficulties that we experience, such as loss, pain, and grief, and for helping others who are experiencing these difficulties. Grief has many faces and phases and each person’s grieving process is unique to their circumstances and situation.
“Grief is crazy-making, feels like a psychosis, is impulsive, explosive, arbitrary, unjust, but is as basic to the human condition as love and joy.” - Sandra L. Bertman
Grief includes all the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that occur when we experience a perceived loss, negative change, or death. Like a dark cloud or shadow which passes in front of the sun and blocks the light of the sun, grief can overcome us in darkness and confusion at times. Grief includes a wide range of thoughts and feelings that may change from day to day, hour to hour, and minute to minute. It is normal to experience feelings of sadness, anger, confusion, guilt, joy, laughter, gratitude, spiritual connection, playfulness, and more. While grief is a challenging and often unwelcome experience, it is also helpful to know that grief is not something that you can “fix” or that you should try to “get rid of.” Rather, it is normal and natural for grief to appear and wash over us in waves at various times, especially around anniversaries or when memories are reawakened by certain people, places, or things.
Grief can be overwhelming and difficult, since it impacts all aspects of a person, including the mind, body, spirit, emotions, and social relationships. Grief is also often processed and expressed differently by children, adolescents and adults. For example, children may experience physiological responses such as stomach aches. Socially, some people will draw closer to others while dealing with grief, while teenagers and others may push away from others. Spiritual responses may include asking “why me?” and questioning one’s faith in God or drawing closer to God in prayer. After a loss, some people lose their sense of safety and develop a sense of fear about the world. Fear, uncertainty, and questioning are natural parts of the grieving process. Recognizing, accepting, and processing the wide range of normal responses to grief is often an important part of the healing process.
Reach out to us at BRI for support on your unique grief journey and for help along the way, or to explore ways to help someone close to you who is struggling with grief and loss. We are here to help you grow more resilient through the grieving process.