Counseling Works, PLLC
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Authored by Counseling Works, PLLC Staff

 

Grief & Loss (minus) Death (still equals) Grief

When we discuss people coping with grief, we commonly reference the grieving process in association with the loss of loved ones. Those individuals, grandparents, parents, and cherished individuals who meant the most to us. It's true, grief is about experiencing a loss. In this context, our grief is a natural way for us to honor, show love and appreciation for those individuals who have died. 

For some, the grieving process can be smooth and clear to understand. But, for others it can be a very complicated, overwhelming and filled with many layers. In each case, grief is a way for us to remember the good and bad things about our loss; acknowledge and respect our feelings about our loss; and process new ways of navigating life with full consideration of this loss. 

But, l'd like to take the element of human death out of this equation. What about individuals who are actually experiencing grief, and no one has died? Yes, there are times where you can experience grief outside of the context of a physical death!

Life is FILLED with a variety of life transitions. All of which can come with an aspect of a loss. These losses are perfectly capable of creating a grieving experience.

Let's examine the case of women and pregnancy. A woman who is pregnant for the first time, perhaps. This woman has had a pre-baby lifestyle. This likely included a certain amount of independence, flexibility, different responsibilities and even a former body shape/size.

So, what happens when a woman now brings life into the word? Some or all of these things change; and overnight. Women don't always manage that transition very well in the beginning. To a certain degree, these woman begin to grieve the life that was, prior to her baby. A very complicated form of grief for these women. 

What about a woman who is climbing the career ladder of success? There are times when these women lose friends, must change states, and even lose close ties to family members. This process for many women becomes a lonely process. In this case as well, these women may begin to grieve the loss of the life that was, prior to career success. This too is a very complicated form of grief. 

These are just a few examples of everyday experiences that can cause grief. So, what do you do about these types of life transitions that come with a major change or loss? Actually, you can approach them in a similar way to grieving the loss of loved ones. (1.) You always start by acknowledging your feelings. It's ok to feel sad about losing something about your life that you valued. (2.) You also want to make a fair attempt at working towards acceptance of these changes. This part may take the most time and effort, but it's possible. (3.) Then, eventually you will need to attempt to develop strategies to establish new rituals and life norms outside of the life that was. 

Grief is a broader concept and more commonly encountered than we sometimes realize; and not always paired with the death of someone. Taking the time to reflect on the changes taking place in your life can help you to identify potential sources of undesirable thoughts, feelings or behaviors you may be experiencing. What have you possibly been unconsciously grieving?

~ Authored by V. Works

Disclaimer: If the level of grief you are experiencing is more complicated, overwhelming and paired with depression, suicidal thoughts, isolation, and other symptoms of maladaptive coping strategies, please seek out a licensed mental health professional.