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What is Grief?
Have you ever felt like the sky is falling down around you and the world might end? For some that is what it means to say a final goodbye to those or what we love. Grief is the feeling that someone experiences after the death or loss of something or someone they love or felt an attachment to. Feeling grief can also be accompanied by other emotions ranging from confusion to anger to sadness.
Why Do We Mourn?
People mourn because they make attachments to people and things? Usually the greater the positive feeling and attachment the more people miss it when it is gone. This sense of loss is what we find so excruciating and emotionally painful. It is common for humans to create a matrix of relationships to navigate their world. For example, when some people claim that “someone or something is their rock” this is another way of saying that their relationship is a basis or hook from which they can find balance with the rest of the world. Similarly, when someone says that “they were always there for me” of a loved one who has passed, they are not only saying goodbye to that person but all the ways they would shape their lives and experiences moving forward, all that squandered potential which is now gone. We mourn because losing what or who we love is hard and makes life harder. We mourn for ourselves as much as what is gone.
The Stages of Grief:
Grief, just like life, is highly variable and unpredictable. How we come to terms (or not) with the loss is entirely on the individual. In fact trying to incorporate other artificial coping mechanisms can actually extend or complicate someone’s journey to finding solace from their grief. According to the work of psychiatrist Elizabeth Kuber-Ross, the five stages of grief are commonly thought of as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, however not only do some people never find acceptance at all, some will not follow these stages in order or experience some of them.
Grief can be short (acute) or long and drawn out to somewhere in between. The severity of the grief does not always indicate the strength of the attachment, as people process life’s hurdles differently. One of the biggest differences however between grief and depression is usually that grief will fade naturally with time where depression is not typically healed by just leaving it alone to its own devices. Even though grief can hurt and can fill the mind with negative thoughts, and although this is perfectly natural, it is important not to let these thoughts shape you as things do not normally end with the loss of another and life will still go on.
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