In the Company of Grief: Making Sense of Loss

Updated: Jan 12

There is not one person who goes through this life without encountering loss. It is a universal experience that has the power to bind us to one another; however, many times, we find that loss leaves us feeling isolated and alone. Why is that?

For one thing, we might judge others and ourselves. At times, we compare losses and create a story about whether or not we, or someone else, is in the right to feel what is being felt. We hear things like, "It's time to move on," or, "get over it, it's not that big of a deal," or, "they just want attention."

For yourself, you may be feeling sadness at the loss of a job or relationship, and think you aren't allowed to grieve the way someone would lament a death or tragedy, because death is what we automatically think of when we hear the words "loss" and "grief".

You may be feeling alone because others have moved on and you realize that although your life feels forever changed, theirs have not.

What I want you to know is loss is loss. Did you know that divorce is considered a loss like death? That's because there is a proverbial death--the relationship is gone, what you envisioned for the future is gone, and the person you slept next to for however many years is gone.

Other losses include your home (fire, flood, natural disaster, moving), relationships (family falling out, friendships ending, romantic relationships breaking up), death of a pet, loss of a job (retirement, getting laid off or fired, choosing to leave), physical losses or loss of health (illness, amputation, loss of function, hysterectomies and mastectomies, dementia), changing schools, your child growing up, moving cities/states/countries, loss of income and financial status, loss of identity, loss of meaning or purpose, just to name a few! (What else can you think of that has been a loss for you?)

The takeaway is this: leave yourself room to grieve. Leave others room to grieve. Remember that everyone experiences grief differently and there is no right way to do it. Consider if you have been feeling a void, or anger, or sadness--grief comes to us in many forms. What losses have you been through? (This pandemic has been like a tornado, sucking up different facets of people's lives and leaving a path of destruction and loss.)

When you experience loss, there is an opportunity for meaning-making and growth, even renewed purpose. The first step toward getting to those places of transformation and allowing grief to be your teacher is to let grief in. This is titled "in the company of grief" for a reason. Welcome this new companion and listen to her, because whether or not you acknowledge her presence, she is there. Let grief in by remembering what it is you lost. Journal the experience. Notice your feelings. Feel the feelings. Helpful tip: you cannot cry forever--it's physically impossible! You do not need to make yourself sad--feel whatever feelings are there. Did you know that joy coexists with grief? When you allow grief to flow, you also open up space for joy to enter in.

Blessings of peace and comfort to you on your journey.

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