Grief and Loss Overview
Maurice Turmel PhD
An overview of grief and loss shows us that this is a broad category of life experience. We usually associate it with death and dying, but it can include losing your employment and broken relationships as additional categories that generate the grief experience. Grief and loss comes in a multiplicity of dimensions that affect our daily lives.
Losing a loved one is what we typically associate with grief and loss. But losses of many types can also generate powerful grief reactions. We include here broken relationships, loss of a pet and loss of employment. When the loss experience strikes we immediately want relief and begin seeking some kind of recovery help.
Today we can see grief and loss associated with divorce, relationship breakup, pet grief and loss of employment. We can also see associations with the loss of ones home, place of business and career aspirations as some hopes and dreams never materialize. We tend not to see these as grief and loss categories, but in fact they are losses that affect us in similar ways as losing a loved one.
The main point of this article is that dealing with grief and loss has a lot of common dimensions over all of its related categories. We mourn the loss of a loved one. We grieve the loss of a pet. We agonize over a broken relationship. We become depressed at the loss of our job.
What is the central point here? Why do we examine grief and loss from all these points of view? Because at the heart of every crisis is an emotional wound. We feel hurt, depressed and sad. We feel lost and afraid. Something we valued has been taken away. We feel pain associated with any loss and that usually elicits anger as a first response. These reactions are typical in every type of grief and loss experience.
Grief and loss, as a life experience, emerges in many aspects of our lives. Learning to relieve ourselves of stress via relevant grief recovery programs can have far reaching benefits. Recovering our usual bounce and drive is a worthy goal and significant benefit in grief recovery. Whatever we learn about dealing with grief and loss can be applied across its many dimensions and occurences.
Growing, expanding and losing are part of the life cycle. A snake crawls into the tall grass in order to shed its old skin. Why? Because the new underneath is pressing for release. Each cyle of our life presents circumstances in which we lose something to gain something better. Letting go is a tough life lesson, but essential to our growth. The old must die so that the new can be born.
Losing a loved one is a powerful and devastating experience and one we never solicit consciously. This is the most difficult of all losses and we acknowledge that it is hard to see any benefit in it. But losing and gaining are with us everyday in a great variety of forms. Learning to cope with all types of loss will help us when the big losses strike. Finding the right resources is essential to managing our grief and loss experience.
Dealing with our emotions is central to the recovery process, no matter what type of loss you encounter. Turning to each other for comfort and solace can bring peace and new found friendships. All times of trial have their secret benefits. That is the main lesson from grief and loss. Life does go on.