Unrecognized Life Losses: Good Grief!

Grief is such a small word for a major component in one’s life. Throughout life, we go through losses resulting in grief. It is how one learns to cope and grieve losses that enable one to move forward. Having good support systems, a strong faith system, and the ability to permit oneself to grieve can be of utmost importance to one’s mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health.

Many say that the ultimate loss we face is the death of loved ones. Loss through death often challenges us. I can bring about an array of experiences that perhaps we didn’t anticipate, but need to grieve to some degree.

However, there are events in life that we often do not associate with loss that can bring about grief. Some are classified as desirable, yet often associated with a loss: marriage; having children; a change in residence. These events can bring about a sense of unanticipated grief: loss of being single, the responsibility of a child, or moving and leaving behind the familiar. Even though the outcome may far out way the loss, one may feel sad when these events occur.

There are other common losses as we age that also bring about grief such as those associated with retirement; change in social connections and family roles. The loss of youth; changes in health status or living situations; decrease in ability to care for one’s needs; limits on our ability to drive; etc. can bring about real grief.

Recognizing that feelings of loss are commonly associated with life events can be comforting.   Grief is a normal, natural process that one must go through to accommodate losses and move forward. It is vital to give oneself permission to grieve. There are no prescribed timelines or set stages that are suitable to everyone. Each person is unique and copes differently. The grief process can be hard work, but it is necessary work.