Our personal understanding of loss can often be minimized when we see tragedies happening on the news or to those we love – resulting in suppressing our own emotions and not acknowledging what we truly are feeling. To better understand grief, we need to make peace with the fact that grief can happen without a tragedy and oftentimes, grief will creep up on us in a way that is hard to understand and define.
Some examples of experiences that can cause grief are:
- The loss of a friendship, romantic relationship or family relationship
- Financial or inanimate objects, the security of finances due to the loss of a job, losing your home or apartment, etc
- An illness that affects your quality of life
- Relinquishment – the choosing to give something up, like a relationship or quitting habit
If you can relate to some of these experiences then it is likely that you’ve dealt with grief. And you still may not even be able to identify what that grief felt or looked like – which is common as we protect ourselves by minimizing our own emotions and with society’s approach of ‘suck it up and move on’, it’s easy to ignore any signs you’re dealing with grief.
Grief will often show her face in small ways that impact your daily life that you may not be able to identify easily but with reflection and giving yourself the permission to feel you will most likely be able to identify when you were in a season of grief. To understand if you’ve experienced grief, let’s start by asking yourself these questions:
Have you ever felt powerless and sad without knowing why?
Have you experienced a change in your sleeping or eating habits?
Can you remember a time where you isolated yourself?
Have you felt like activities that used to bring you joy no longer do?
Did you have an immediate emotional response when thinking about a specific situation?
If you’ve answered yes to some of these questions it’s likely that you’ve experienced grief – outside of the death of a person – and maybe didn’t realize that was what you were going through. When it comes to major life events there are always two sides to the coin – both positive and negative. Even when you are achieving that big goal or starting a family, you can still experience grief for the change in your life and mourning the loss of what was known and stable. Just because something positive is happening, doesn’t mean you can feel the loss or change that comes with it and the grief you may feel.
This week take some time to sit with your emotions, reflect on your past – or present situation – and identify if you’ve felt a loss. This is a personal experience and there is no right or wrong answer of what a loss is – we all experience loss differently. Allow yourself to identify what you’ve lost and how that made you feel. Did you give yourself permission to feel that loss when it was happening? What would you say to yourself to better understand what you were going through? How would you show yourself more kindness and grace in the midst of the loss?