Types of Grief
The basic definition of grief is:
- Keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
- A cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.
Grief on its own is a sense of lose and then the process of dealing with the hole left behind in our life.
Understand grief is a complicated emotion and multiple stage process. Many shades and types of grief exist in the human experience. Another aspect of grief is that how a person expresses sorrow and sadness are very culturally dependent. Some cultures work to subdue grief while others push it out with expansive expression and heart. When people from different backgrounds then express sorrow, the differences in the grieving processes can create conflict, which ironically can reinforce grief. Work towards being respectful of how others express and move through their loss.
The Grieving Process
Culture does try to bottle grief into a predictable process. The most common way to look at the grieving process is to see it as having five stages.
It is said we go through 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining and finally Acceptance.
While in truth this path is often followed by many people, the path can go to many other states of mind along the way. Acceptance is the last step, but the steps before can be much more complex.
The advantage of looking at the grieving process with 5 steps is that it buys a person time to go through the grieving process more patiently and with direction. A serious case of grief can last up to two years. It takes three months to process through a single serious emotional challenge. If the grieving process is muddling through 5 major emotional change states, then it’s no surprise that many people take a year to 18 months of healing when confronting a serious loss in their life. The more extreme cases of grief usually represent a time when a person has to rebuild their entire life. When I work patiently with a student through a deeper grieving process, I can usually speed the process up to 6 to 9 months but rebuilding a life by definition is never a quick process. You have to time the healing process to match the person’s power.
As a human being, we measure our lives against our relationships. Grief most often deals with the loss of a relationship. Since judgment represents how we measure our position in life, the grieving process includes transitional judgment changes as a person rebalances how they see and hold life after losing the relationship.
A person will only grieve when the loss represents a major component of their life’s story. Emotion is all about how we hold our stories in life. When a loss is significant enough, it scrambles a person’s emotional state. It’s fairly common that each person has a critical person or two as the cornerstone of their life’s story. Rebalancing your life and story isn’t an easy thing when losing the cornerstone of a life story.
Be patient, so you can take time to ease out from your emotional distress.
To fully release grief we have to release any judgment holding us back from healing. Sadly emotions will cause a person to hold on to judgments. Then in judgment, the grieving process will generate conflict, which again can create more grief.
Be proactive in working to release judgment
The grieving process is almost always is a tangled path to navigate.
Work lightly with others when helping a person grieving release their judgment. Otherwise, their emotions and judgment will lash out at you!
Work lightly with your grief, so you don’t entangle yourself into a more complicated mess of a process.
Heal Grief by Taking Control of Your Story
To be a human being is to hold a story! As we change our stories in life, we will feel emotions and challenges. For example, if you fail a major test to prove your worth, you could feel anger, shame and even grief at losing the status of excelling in that practice you were tested within. Tests are more arbitrary than people realize, so to give power to an external test is to lose power in how you define and hold your own story. If we lose a person we love, we lose a co-author to our life story. Be proactive to continue and expand your story after your loss.
The strange truth is that not everyone holds to their own story. It’s pretty common for people to hold to stories given to them rather than create their own story. This means people will grieve a loss of a story, which was never their story! For instance, A parent who pushes their child to excel and then the child grieves when they don’t match to their parent’s expectation of achievement!
Avoidance of personal power is a more complicated aspect of working with grief. In helping others, I am helping a person retake control of their life story. Since some people don’t want to be in control of their story, they can use grief as a tool to avoid working on their story.
You cannot force a person to take control of their life story, in fact, to do so will cause them to retract out from their life. Sometimes you have to walk a person gently back on track for their life.