Good Grief

By Jen LaVecchia MS, LMFT

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” – C.S. Lewis

 Often times when we think about grief, we think about the loss of a person, specifically a loved one. While this can be true, grief also encompasses many other aspects of life. In processing grief, we will consider not only the loss of that person, home, pet, career, business, etc. but also the loss of future dreams, plans, and hopes, and more expansive ramifications of loss. Some of these things you may be aware of and others might be lying just under the surface.

For example, even when switching jobs we can experience grief symptoms. The new opportunity may be a great move forward but we may also be having trouble saying goodbyes to close co-workers, adjusting to a new routine, or leaving what is comfortable and familiar. It can lead to a variety of emotions, like some excitement mixed with sadness and fear, or confidence one moment and doubt the next. When we experience loss, there are a lot of thoughts and feelings that can pop up, especially if what is now gone was really meaningful to us. And with the many demands and the busyness of a new season, our emotional health can easily be pushed to the bottom of the seemingly never ending to do list. It can appear easier to keep pushing through as opposed to taking some time to reflect on the impact of such an adjustment. It can be very helpful for some of these pieces to be processed and properly grieved through to allow for a better transition.

Another interesting tidbit about this thing called grief is that everybody grieves differently. Let’s say that again; everyone has their own way of grieving. Yes, there is such a thing as the “grief cycle” but that does not mean it is a linear process that everyone is on somewhat simultaneously. The stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Some folks may cycle around denial, anger, and bargaining over and over again before they get to the point where they are able to experience their sadness and process through their depression. Some other folks may want to keep busy for a while and not think about feelings. Others may allow themselves to be sad and have trouble getting out of bed for a while. One person may want to be talking about it with others, while another may want to be alone for a while. We see these different ways of grieving cause friction between family members and sometimes friends. Expectations of how to cope or when to be making moves forward get in the way. But at the end of the day there is no perfect or right way to grieve. The most important piece is that we don’t shove things under the rug in hope that they will just go away.

Now as awesome as it would be to have a magic wand to make the feelings associated with grief (anger, hurt, pain, sadness, confusion, to name a few) just go away, we find the most healing traveling through these feelings as opposed to attempting shortcuts around them. This may sound scary but you don’t have to go through that alone. Let us journey alongside you and sit in the trenches with you as we make sense of your loss and what life will look like moving forward.