Grief, according to the dictionary, means: deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death. While those words put the definition succinctly, they don’t really encompass the depth of what that word really means. That definition doesn’t cover the broad spectrum of what grief covers either. Grief can be felt not just because of someone’s death, but at the loss of a multitude of things. From relationships, to jobs, to pets, and of course, to people.
We all handle grief in a myriad of ways, and in reality, we cycle through it. The many stages of grief are not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of thing. There is no set way to work through the stages of grieving. This doesn’t matter the reason we are grieving, or how many times we’ve grieved. Every situation is different from the last, and is processed differently than the ones before.
There are different stages to the grief process. They are usually considered to be: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Over the coming weeks, I’ll address each of these individually, but there’s still so much to discuss about grieving.
Grieve in your own time
Through the process of grieving, each stage, each step, each moment… they are yours and there is no time frame on any part of the grief process. I totally understand that grief is different for everyone, but the time frame seems to be something that so many really get hung up on. Every instance of grief is an ever changing and ever progressing process. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that there is a time frame on grieving.
Granted, there is a healthy way and non-healthy way to handle grief. Feelings should be processed, coping mechanisms learned, whatever you need. That doesn’t mean that there is a timeframe. We all process emotions at a different rate, none of us are the same. Therefore, we shouldn’t be held to the same as others in working through everything.
Not only is there no timeframe overall, there is also no timeframe on any stage of the grieving process. Each stage is your own to work through. One big thing to remember, is that there is also no set pattern to how that is done. We can work through one stage before another and we can also cycle through the stages multiple times. This is very dependent upon the cause of the grief and each individual.
Own the journey
Regardless if you are working through the loss of a job, a pet, a relationship, or even the death of a loved one, the journey is yours. Every feeling and thought that you have while processing through the grieving process is yours as well. Own each and every one of those things. The biggest thing I’ve learned through my own grief journeys is that every emotion is mine. The emotions are our reactions to not only the loss, but what was and what could have been. By recognizing that the emotions are our own reactions, it has the possibility of making those things a little more intense. However, while they may be more intense, learning how to process, handle, and cope with them, becomes a more personal journey for each of us.
Making the journey more personal doesn’t necessarily make sense to a lot of individuals when talking about grief. However, and I’m guilty of this, sometimes with grief we put distance between ourselves and the pain. For many, that is a coping mechanism, and a rather effective one at that. I understand that being able to cope is important, but we need to own the emotions and thoughts in order for coping to be effective.
Own the grief
We’ve all heard that loss is a part of life, and to be quite frank, it sucks. Losing a part of our lives makes us question so many things. With the loss of a job, we question our plans for the future. With the loss of a relationship we often question if there was something we could change about ourselves. When we lose a loved one, we question our own morality.
These questions are all normal, well, questioning in general is normal. As we move through the days of our lives, we question things and we grow. Questioning even the more emotional moments of our lives makes sense more than any other time. How are we to process the pain, hurt, anger, and every other emotion we have if we don’t question it? How can we own all of those things, own the grieving, and own the journey if we don’t question it?
The simple answer is that we can’t. We have to question not only where those things come from, but the why. Regardless if we are ever able to truly put a reason or answer to those things, we have to ask them in order to process through things and make it our own.
In the coming weeks, we will be breaking down the grief process. My challenge for you this week is to just own the journey and own the grief. Make it yours. Know that it is yours and yours to take. Realize that no one else can tell you the path to take, or how long it takes you. Remember, you are not alone. No matter what grief journey you have on your plate, we are here for you.
We’d love to hear from you on this, share with us your anything you’d like to share. Own your journey and your grief, and we’ll catch you on the flip side.