Understanding the Process of Grieving

Grief is the reaction to a loss event. What do I mean by loss event? Well, loss isn’t only death of a loved one.  Loss events include:

Family Loss Events:

  • Death of a Loved One
  • Miscarriage
  • Infertility
  • Children with Special Needs
  • Aging Parents/Grandparents
  • Adoption
  • Blended/Step-families

Relationship Loss Events:

  • Divorce
  • Break-up
  • Separation

Personal Loss Events:

  • Moving
  • Immigration
  • Loss of Hopes and Dreams
  • Loss of Safety and Security (emotional, physical, financial)
  • Death of a Pet

Health Loss Events:

  • Life-threatening or Chronic Illness (yourself and loved ones)
  • Injury (yourself and loved ones)

Career Loss Events:

  • Fired from Job
  • Career Change
  • Retirement
  • Losses From Natural and Other Disasters

What do we lose?

Many lose loved ones, friends and co-workers in death; Others lose robust good health and face the long process of recovery; Some lose their assumptions of safety and security; the familiarity of our routines; the belief that, for the most part, they could control events in their lives. Some lose the hopes and dreams of the future. Many people lose their homes, personal possessions that held deep meaning, and a sense of order in their lives during natural disasters. Some lose their jobs, their sense of personal empowerment, their money for retirement, and their expectations of the future they crafted very carefully.

So again – Grief is the reaction to a loss event.

Grieving is the normal, natural, and necessary process that restores us to wholeness.

Grieving is a wholly feeling experience. The cognitive or thinking part of self is not the grieving part of self. Think of your personal energy as being 100%. In a perfect world, 50% of your personal energy is your outside self and 50% of your personal energy is your inside self.

The job of the outside self is to think, assess, evaluate, make decisions, go to work, pay your bills, read the paper, plan for your future, remember to send your mother a birthday card; behaviors that occur outside of you.

The job of the inside self is to feel your feelings, be creative, intuitive, inspired, insightful, spiritual, intimate, passionate, joyful, compassionate; experiences that occur inside you.

If you fall down and injure your leg, the blood supply will leave parts of your body and go to your injured leg to help it heal. We all respect injuries of the physical body! So you would modify your physical activity, not stress or otherwise re-injure your injured leg, and you would allow time for it to heal.

Similarly, it is correct to think about the injury to your emotions from experiencing a loss event as an emotional rupture.

Your normal, natural, and necessary emotional response to experiencing an emotional rupture includes shock, numbness, disbelief, anger, and many other feelings and a lot of physical body responses.

Much of the energy of your outside self will be redirected inward, to the inside self, much like the blood being directed away from some parts of the physical body and redirected to the injured part of the physical body.

Think of it this way:  Remember the concept that your personal energy equals 100%; 50% outside self-energy and 50% inside self-energy. After a loss the ratio of outside to inside energy is more like 10% outside self-energy and 90% inside self-energy. Meaning that a lot of the energy of the outside self has been sent to support the emotional rupture of the inside self.

So, logically that means that thinking, making decisions, going to work, paying your bills, and many of the other daily tasks of the outside self won’t get done.

Moving on; Getting back to normal—won’t get done.

There simply isn’t enough outside self-energy following a loss event.

It also means you may be feeling fatigued, lack motivation, focus, and concentration—all activities of the outside self.

Please consider that following a loss event it is necessary to modify our emotional activity, not stress the injured part of self, not have unrealistic expectations of the outside part of self (because remember a lot of that energy has been redirected to the inside self to help heal the emotional rupture), and allow the inside part of self time to heal.

Every single human being has reactions to loss. Each individual experiences these reactions differently. Each individual behaves differently based on his or her inside-self experience. Grieving is as unique as your fingerprints. No two people will react to the same loss event in the same way and no two people will grieve the same way.

It is disrespectful to the inside self, never mind not even possible, to expect to return to “business as usual,” “move on,” “get back to normal,” without sufficient time to walk the path of grieving; to give yourselves time to restore our sense of safety, regain your sense of balance inside and outside, and reorganize your thinking and coping strategies.

We are asking ourselves questions and exploring our understanding of the meaning of life, the nature of the Universe, and our place it. It is powerful work for the inside self. It is essential work for the inside self. Nothing much will get done in the world of the outside self unless and until we attend to the work of the inside self.

Trust what you know, deep in the place where you know it. Honor your courage and respect the tenderness of your heart and you soul. Tell the truth about your limitations and your vulnerability. They are your strengths! You are not weak.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you are.  There is nothing wrong with you, quite the contrary.  You are the exquisite reflection of your human-ness!!  Your reactions are completely normal, natural, and necessary.

Be patient with yourself!  You deserve it!

Remember, only YOU can make it happen!

 

Original Content by Jackie Black, Ph.D., BCC
www.DrJackieBlack.com ~ DrJackie@DrJackieBlack.com
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Hello. I am Dr. Jackie Black, your Couples in Trouble Expert. Since 1999, I have guided many formerly frustrated and desperately unhappy Couples in Trouble to happiness, closeness and having more fun together than they ever imagined. My years of experience combined with your commitment to your personal growth will enable you to welcome the results you have always wanted and never believed were possible in your marriage.

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