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Good Grief vs Good Grieving

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Sunriser13, Dec 21, 2002.

  1. Sunriser13

    Sunriser13 Knee Deep in Paradise

    Several of our family here have recently either experienced the loss of a loved one, or are facing the imminent loss of a cherished friend. Whether through death or breakup, the steps to working through that loss are quite similar. Even the loss of awareness of someone close to you, in the instances of Alzheimer's or coma, for example, are indeed a form of death. Grieving is part of the healing process each of us must go through in order to become whole again.

    Good grief! Is there such a thing? No experience of grief feels good. Quite the opposite. The grieving feelings we all have from time to time can fill us with sorrow, despair, remorse, guilt, shame, anger, fear - all powerful, negative emotions. As well, grief is universal and inescapable. It is something we all encounter at some stage in our lives.

    There is no such thing as good grief, but there is 'good grieving'. Put simply, grief is about loss and grieving is how we handle loss. Good grieving is about being able to work effectively through our feelings of loss, whatever their causes, circumstances or reasons.

    Good grieving occurs when we are able to work through our feelings of loss within a supportive, accepting and understanding environment. Good grieving occurs when our grief pain is recognised and acknowledged. Good grieving permits highly individual responses to loss and the way it is expressed. Good grieving brings about positive resolution of our grief and doesn't leave us with unfinished business.

    Nobody can grieve for us. The feelings are profoundly personal and deeply emotional. But others can grieve with us. Grieving should neither be hurried nor delayed. We all have a unique grief timetable and our responses and expressions are very individual. What's more, grief can get us in touch with old, unresolved grieving from our childhood or other life experiences and we may find ourselves dealing with contemporary and archaic grief situations at the same time.

    There are a number of 'steps' we need to have completed to have experienced 'good grieving'.

    (1) Accepting the reality of the loss is always important. Initially this may be just too difficult and we can't face it for a while. When the reality hits us, so does the grief. Grieving won't happen until then.

    (2) Experiencing the pain of grief, although difficult, is vital. Grief pain has an agenda all of its own. The greater the sense of loss the deeper and more disturbing is the pain. Deep feelings of grief are unequalled, almost unbearable, emotionally volatile and often beyond our control. Although frightening, they are natural and need to be expressed. We should never feel ashamed of such feelings.

    (3) Adjusting to our changed environment is a necessary step for good grieving. Remember we all take these steps in different ways and at different paces. We may have been retrenched or gone through a divorce. Our partner may have died or we have become incapacitated through an accident or illness. Whenever we experience loss we need at some stage to make an adjustment to our changed circumstances. Good grieving helps us to do that.

    (4) Letting go of our feelings of attachment is required of us. Let me explain. Attachment can come in many forms. It is essentially the depth of "connectedness" we have with people, things we own, or things we do. Love is a very deep attachment. Grieving is letting go of the energy of love. It is not saying good-bye to our love for that person. We can be attached to our house or dog. The deeper the emotional energy we have invested the more difficult will be the 'letting go'. Our job may have given us security, recognition and satisfaction. The loss of our job could mean we are now divested of these things and we are required to 'let go' of the position which gave them to us.

    (5) Looking beyond the loss becomes a courageous step we all must take at some time. This will depend on the type of loss we have experienced. We may be required through radical changes in circumstances to have to 'get on with our lives' economically, socially or vocationally. If it is a death of a loved one, it may seem a betrayal to look beyond the relationship. If it was a relationship breakdown, we may feel too bruised to 'get involved' again. Given time and good grieving, even this step at some stage will seem more possible.

    At some stage we will all have to live our lives on the other side of the losses we experience. Good grieving will help us to do this.
  2. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    Deleted. Message better suited to IM.
  3. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    (Wonders what Shiny wrote)

    Sorry, I don't have a topic here. I've always scrapped my losses under this huge rug and I refuse to look down up on it, no matter how large it grows.

    Perhaps when I am 80, I will bawl for about a week.
  4. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    You know ethics, repressing does more damage, and often times manifests itself in ways you'd never think - like headaches or weird dreams or painful gums, etc.

    It's healthy to grieve. You should give yourself time to grieve.
  5. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Nah, I'd be out of commission for weeks.

    Nightmares are a regular thing though, I learned to deal with them and control them instead of them controlling me. It took years but I think I have it under the belt. Still not fun, but I feel like I am exercising at night.
  6. LissaKay

    LissaKay Oh ... Really???

    In August of 1995, my brother was murdered. My parents were devastated, to say the least. Mother became totally disabled by her grief. Daddy just seemed lost, on another planet. My grandparents had just been moved out here from California due to their declining health and worsening of Alzheimer's Disease and they needed a great deal of care and attention. Fortunately for them, the Alzheimer's protected them from the worst of the shock. That left me to handle nearly everything. From making the decision to unplugging the machines that kept my brother's heart beating, and fighting with the hospital to allow his organs to be donated, giving information to the police detectives ... to picking out the coffin and flowers, making funeral arrangements and notifying friends and family, I was the only one that could handle any of this. I also had my own three children to help understand what had happened to their beloved uncle. I had no time nor energy to grieve.

    A little less than three months later, the man I had been dating for almost two months was killed in a car accident. I was told of this by some of his friends at the dance club we were to meet at that night. I can still remember vividly the words I was told with, the face of his friend, my actions and words as if it happened only yesterday. I let out a howl of anguish and collapsed to my knees sobbing loudly, "No no no!" It was only with the help of his friends and mine that I was able to get home that night in one piece.

    Long story short, it was as if I grieved for both my boyfriend and my brother at the same time. I spent much of the next few months in a haze crying over nothing and everything, and expending a tremendous amount of energy just to keep it together enough to do the things I needed to do. I lost 10 pounds in a month (that's a LOT for a tiny frame like mine) and lost three jobs in a year because of my inability to focus enough on the details. But eventually, gradually, the cloud lifted.

    Life is filled with grieving. With every loss, grief follows and it generally follows the same pattern - denial, anger, bargaining, depression and eventually, acceptance. The severity of the loss is proportionate to the length of time it takes to move through the stages. The progression is neither linear nor steady, one may move back and forth between anger and depression for a long while before moving on to acceptance. Some may get stuck at some point. The most tragic reaction, as I found, was to ignore the grief altogether and opt to be stoic. Grief cannot be ignored forever, it must be dealt with in order to go on leading a healthy and energetic life.
  7. jamming

    jamming Banned

    An interesting study that I read in Pastoral Care in Seminary is that a large group people who live to be 100+ were surveyed and the thing the most had in common was the ability to grieve. Not saying its connected causally, but it was an interesting issue that we talked about in class. This is one thing that minister do to help people, some are better than others but at least the Seminaries are teaching it now.
  8. bruzzes

    bruzzes Truthslayer

    Demi and sunshine, thank you for your posts.
    Both are profound and filled with great insight.
    So many here are experiancing grief and I know that it will come soon to me.
    Even with preparation, it will be difficult to handle. One of my greatest fears is a return to the bottle. It had served me as a crutch in the past and is an easy way out to temporarily avoid the pain of grief.
    After almost 16 yrs of sobriety, I know it is one sip away.
    Sharing your grief is very important.
    I have many friends here and I hope to turn to them to help recovery.
    Again thank you for your posts.
  9. Violet1966

    Violet1966 Stand and Deliver Staff Member

    I don't mean to say this in a way like rubbing things in people's faces, but I've been fortunate enough to have never lost anyone close to me yet. supposed to be pretty good for someone the age of 36. Well I can't answer this one but hope that one day (God forbid), I have to go through it, I'll be able to do it without loosing it. I've seen friends go through losing parents and grandparents and I never could feel exactly what they felt, but understood that it must have been a very unique feeling. I'm not looking forward to it in the least. God rest the souls of all the loved ones of people here who have passed. And to those that have had to deal with grieving, I wish you peace.
  10. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    You know, this topic came to mind last night as I was attending a Christmas dinner that my mother threw at her place - yes, my MOTHER threw a Christmas dinner. After almost 4 years since my father's death, my mom actually threw a celebration of some sort, and invited people other than family members to join - in this case, she invited her 2 coworkers (she works in a dental lab, and there's only 2 other guys there) and their families.

    When the owner of the lab stood up and made a toast to my mom, basically calling my mom his 2nd mom, I thought I was going to cry because of the look of pure JOY on my mom's face... It's been a long time since I've seen my mom happy.

    Shortly after my dad passed away, I moved back home to watch over my mom and take care of my sister (who was only 2 1/2 at the time) - I was 23, working fulltime to keep us afloat, and then would come home and take care of my sister while my mom went to school to finish her degree up. Dad passed in May of 1999, I moved back home in August of 1999, and then we moved to Orlando in December '99 - my husband and I rented an apartment in the same complex as my mom (he had moved to Orlando months earlier to start a new job, and I stayed behind to help mom settle things with the house) and until this past September, I've been keeping an eye on my mom. To say it's been an interesting observation of my mom is an understatement - there were days I was afraid to leave her alone because I thought she was going to kill herself that day (she threatened suicide often, she was in a lot of pain over the death of my father).

    Now she's a completely new person - she even looks younger. It's amazing how sadness and grief ages a person so quickly.

    As I sat there last night, thinking back to how things were this time of year back in 1999 and 2000 and even last year, I just kept thanking God that mom was ok and got through it.

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