Grief incompasses so many experiences. There is the grief involved in death, the most commonly evoked experience when one pictures grief. But there is also grief in any loss that is experienced. Examples are divorce, breaking up in a relationship, loss of a friendship, and loss of dreams about the future. Sometimes the loss of dreams are associated with the other loss. All the plans that were related to the relationship are also lost when the relationship goes away. With multiple losses the grief may be even bigger. When you lose someone, either by death or just a seperation, often you lose your sense of self at that time. Sometimes that means losing your identity as a daughter or partner or mother, depending on who you is gone from your life. You may lose the sense of being taken care of when you lose a parent. You might lose your identity of being a caretaker/ parent when you lose a child. You often lose your dreams of the future with the loss of a partner, such as the idea of a white, picket fence or a family that you fear may never happen. Sometimes the grief comes in the form of losing the dream of having children when you find you are too old or there are problems in conception.
Like many “negative” emotions, grief often feels quite intolerable. It can feel like your whole world has fallen apart and at that moment it has because not only is the person/thing gone, but the dreams and identity are also gone. Often it feels like a rug being pulled out from under you because your whole world can change so dramatically. Coping with the grief means not only tolerating the unbearable feeling that is experienced but also exploring ideas about yourself and how they have changed and probably not in a way you wanted. Loss of our ideas and our identity does not mean that they are forever gone, but we may find that they won’t look exactly as we had imagined them to look and that can take time to adjust to and accept. The grief is often far more difficult to tolerate and cope with when it is closely connected to our current daily experience or our future dreams.
You will have to reexperience the grief whenever you have a memory of what is lost or when you attempt to move your life forward in a valued direction. Often the hardest part of moving forward is having to accept the loss.
Often we fight the horrible feeling both because it feels bad, but also because if we are to feel the pain it means we are accepting the loss. Sometimes we get stuck in grief or more likely in depression because we avoid the feelings and possilby believe we avoid losing something. In fact we have already lost and cannot keep from experiencing that feeling. We might try to avoid it, but it will still be there. The only way to lesson this pain is to allow it to be there and allow things to enter our life that are important to us or to remain consistent with what has always been important to us, even though this may remind us of our loss in the short term.