Grief; What Is It?
We all hear about grief, it’s something we are trained to know something about, even when we are small. It’s that thing that happens to us when someone dies. That’s grief, the word for that place we must visit when we are suffering a loss.
But exactly is it? Or, could there be more to it? I believe there’s more, much more. As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist I know that grief is a very tiny word for a very BIG experience. It’s an awful, terrible, monstrous place that no one willingly goes to, and it’s something that accompanies all broken hearts when a loved one dies.
There’s a reason grief has been broken down into stages, because it’s too large of a process to be contained in those five letters. A friend describes the sudden death of her brother and the grief that engulfed her this way, “It felt like my foundation in life just crumbled. Everything I knew to be true just vanished and I was left suspended in a deep dark place without the ability to grab on, to anything.”
In clinical terms we can call this shock, disbelief, sadness, or despair. But listening to this friend talk about her world crumbling tells me more about the depth of the feelings of grief than the clinical terms ever could. My friend was suffering, suffering a broken heart. A broken heart causes intense pain, and that’s what she was experiencing.
Sometimes when we talk about people going through grief we categorize them as “falling apart”. And that’s exactly right, they do fall apart. The brain can’t and won’t compute terrible news. The brain will fight to keep the information away, and it will use everything it has. “No I won’t listen.” “There must be some mistake.” “I refuse to believe it.” These protections are important for the person. They may not be rational to an outsider, but they are necessary for the one who is experiencing the grief.
When the protections are gone, what’s left is the pain. Sometimes people will get angry. “There must be a reason why this happened and someone must be responsible.” When a person gets angry, that’s another protection from the well of sadness. If I am upset, blaming, angry and yelling, I cannot feel the sadness underneath. I can’t feel my broken heart.
So some people just stay mad. It may be difficult for other family members to understand, but I believe people will move through their grief at the only pace they can tolerate. Feeling those awful feelings may be too painful.
Once inside the awful place, where all the disappointments and heartaches reside there may be no stopping the pain and sadness. It may feel endless. I know it is not endless. There is an end. Grieving a lost loved one can be therapeutic. Having a trained counselor help us through this difficult time can be comforting. Talking to family and friends can help also.
But the bottom line is, grief is unique to each one of us. It is a process we will find ourselves in when we suffer deep loss. It is something that has its own energy and pace. You can’t rush it. You can’t ignore it. You can let it in, and some day you will feel better.
We are forever changed when we lose those most precious to us. After losing a family member a wise teacher once said to me, “Your canvas is deeper now.” I like to think I became deeper, more in touch with my own feelings, more sensitivity toward others. We grow in ways unimaginable us before the grief occurs. It’s unrealistic to “get over” the person we’re grieving. I don’t think we ever do that. We do learn to live with the sadness, and sometimes, after time we can even make peace with it.

Author's Bio: 

I work with people who are looking to move past the roadblocks that keep them from living a happier life. I treat individuals and couples in all stages of a relationship. I specialize in working with men in mid-life. The process works, and I can help you.
You owe it to yourself to feel better. Talking about it can help you do this. Call for a free phone consultation today (562)293-1737.
Therapy involves weekly sessions where you just get to talk about what's happening in your life. This process can free your mind of the same worries, and it will allow for your own insights and ideas to come forth. I will help you see yourself in new ways. You will become more confident and happy.