Grief : Not just for death

You don’t need to be grieving to come to blogs, websites and books about grief. Often people will come to places like this because the they want to help others who are grieving. Getting some basic understanding of grief as a normal and unavoidable part of daily life will make your life seem easier,

The evolved emotion of grief that is not attached to death is a normal part of our daily lives. The better we become at grieving small and medium sized losses, the better we will be prepared to manage the major grief that life will eventually bring to us when we lose loved ones. 

A challenge is that we hesitate to call many parts of daily life grief without someone dying. I think that’s because we are conditioned to feel weak or vulnerable when we call it grief for simple parts of life. In my interpretation, grief is simply an evolved processing of love lost, a process that heals our soul and makes us stronger by repairing the cracks that life adds to our souls, but also by making us wiser by teaching us about loss so that we can avoid it where we can.

The loss of a relationship with a loved one is an example of grief without death. Our first breakup in life often leaves us broken and scarred because we lack the tools to effectively process the pain into wisdom and knowledge, a process that takes experience. Divorce is right behind death of a loved on on the challenge scale. Friends who part ways or move away from each other will each grieve the loss differently.

We will grieve loss of autonomy as we confront illness or injury, whether thru genetics, disease, or accident. The ski hill was the place that I felt most at home on this Earth, a place of great joy. But age and a minor ski accident with major implications of a dislocated and damaged shoulder makes it unwise for me to ski. The consequences of another simple fall would be far more damaging than the longing to feel the mountain and harness the forces of gravity into joy. So, I have grieved the loss of skiing and can visit the memories of the many years of mountains conquered without longing for more.

The loss of a beloved pet is a common  example of a valuable teachable experience of love, grief and the reality that life is finite. Often the loss of a pet consumes people for a time. One of the few times I saw my father cry in his life was after we had to euthanize an aging and sick beloved Old English Sheepdog. His love was real, his grief was real.

We can also grieve the loss of material things, the destruction of a car that we really liked in an accident. I consider it lust when the object of our grief is inanimate, but lust is close enough to love for us to borrow the grieving process we use for love of others.

Often we grieve as a result of our own mistakes, a bad investment where we have lost money is a common example. A career change, forced or chosen, triggers grief for the old job and fears and insecurity for the new job.

Any change that affects our daily lives will trigger some amount of grief. How we teach ourselves to deal with those losses is often how we will grieve the loss if loved ones. 

All this simply to normalize grief as a part of our daily lives, and to encourage those who have not yet grieved the loss of a loved one to come to better understand their personal process of grief. If you become better at processing grief in your daily life, you will find more peace and less angst, you will become more confident and feel stronger and better prepared when you need to grieve something of a larger scale.

The distillation of grief in our daily lives is one of the many ways that we acquire knowledge from experience. If we understand a mistake that brought us grief, we can choose to avoid similar mistakes in our future. But, if we walk away from the mistakes of hurts of daily life without acquiring the understanding to avoid them, then our lives will be filled with more similar mistakes. We often call that type of person a train wreck, because when the go off the rails the collection of unresolved past mistakes all go off the rails in the same time and place and the mess left behind is much bigger.

Regrets are heavy things, and most regrets are things in our lives that we have partially grieved without completion. We have suffered the pain and not acquired the understanding. You can process the losses that cause you to carry regrets through life at any time. Often we pretend that something doesn’t bother us enough to be bothered with it, but then it keeps circling past. Regrets are like vultures circling your life, waiting for you to be weak and wounded to come rip another piece of your soul.

A great purpose for seeking knowledge about the process of grief is that you will better understand and be better able to support those around you who are grieving. 

I could go on forever, but the last one is that sometimes you need an example of someone who has suffered a loss that you consider significant and has come back to loving their life. There are many who have lost more than I have and healed. I wish that they would write or speak more, because grief is love and love is life itself. 

Be well, seek peace with your losses and build love in your life and those around you each day.




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