Grief is not a bad word!

Loss is an unavoidable part of life. All of us experience a broken heart at some point in our lives. Grief is normal and natural. We must go through the healing process. We, the Grief Specialists, know that there are over 43 known losses that a person can experience in a lifetime, such as the loss of a loved one, the loss of health, divorce, loss of a pet, or the letting go of a long-cherished dream. Dealing with a meaningful loss can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life.

I ask you this—if grief is normal and natural, then why is it that no one wants to talk about it? I am not sure when grief became a dirty word or a bad word or worse, the “enemy.” This is what I do know. I post on my Facebook daily, and if I post something funny and uplifting, it will get many comments and likes. However, if I even hint at grief or loss, my Facebook becomes a ghost town. No comments and even less likes. What is it about the word that makes us so uncomfortable about it?

My guess is that grief has become the hallmark of an uncomfortable conversation, because we never talk about it. We associate grief with pain, tears, and death. And this is true! But, we have and will continue to have personal relationships with them throughout our lives.

Our choice to relate to grief in any way may be unconscious. Nonetheless, it is still a choice, and the truth is that the effect of relating to grief as the “enemy” can only hurt you personally. When we choose to hold on to the pain of loss in our hearts that we, as Grief Recovery Specialists, know that our clients will experience, long periods of depression, panic and anxiety, emotional and physical health issues, and the acting out of anger, blame, self-pity and sadness form significant portions of our lives. Our lives can be damaged forever. We run the risk of getting stuck in the pain of grief. However, it doesn’t have to be this way!

We need to start now by having a conversation about grief and loss, even when you are not personally reeling under a loss. 

-Do talk to your children about grief and loss, using words to describe your feelings about grief and what it feels like to experience grief.

-Do step up and have conversations with your friends and family members who may be experiencing a loss.

-Do ask them what happens when they are experiencing grief. Listen to what they have to say. Grievers want to be listened to, and heard with respect.

-Do not try to fix it for them. The most loving thing you can do is to just listen.

-It is okay if you do not have anything to say. Listening is the most important thing that you can do for your grieving friend.

-Do use the words “death,” “died,” “grief,” and “loss.” We can never grow in these normal and natural responses to loss if we never use the words.

The one thing that I know to be true is that we all can become members of this club, even though we never want to join but we have to, given the personal losses that we have suffered. It will change our lives forever. The longer we try to avoid the recovery process, the more fearful it can become.

Most of us try to develop the ability to control our lives and emotions. When you are deeply grieving a loss, it’s because you feel a loss of control. Suddenly, you cannot control your feelings and that can be overwhelming. You may find yourself feeling sad and/or crying without any ability to stop. You May even find that things that were once important no longer have any meaning. These are amongst the many common reactions that people in grief have. This can be scary, since this is different than what you have experienced before. It can make you feel afraid of your future, since, due to that loss, it’s likely not the future you planned. 

If you have found grief to be overwhelming for you, it’s not because there is anything wrong with you. Grief is the normal and natural reaction to the change in your life. If you have felt lost in dealing with that emotional pain, it’s simply because you never had the proper tools to deal with it correctly. Grief can be scary, but it does not need to destroy your life and your ability to be joyous, unless you allow that to be the case. We can use the word “grief” and “loss” without the world coming to an end!

I often think about the mark that I will leave on this earth. What will I do to give back? Without doubt, I have found my calling in leaving my mark on this earth and that is to help anyone who is grieving from a broken heart. I will guide them on the path to recovery.

I ask that you do your part. Start using the word “grief.” Do not be afraid of feelings and or the tears that they may bring up. Talk to your children about grief and loss. I know that it is one of the hardest conversations that we will have in our lives. But, we will survive.