The Many Faces of Grief
Updated: Aug 9, 2020
When it comes to grief, the only way out is through.
The biggest difficulty with grieving is the desire to avoid it. Grief feels emotionally gross and disgusting. It’s only natural to want to skip over it, move on to the next thing, or pretend it’s not there and hope it will go away.
When I experienced loss of a loved one – the parent of one of my childhood friends, and then later my grandfather – I was surprised by how much I appreciated the funeral. There was something inexplicably helpful about coming together, openly acknowledging death, and expressing the emotions – in community – that come up when someone dies.
Despite having some positive funeral experiences, my view is that western culture falls short when it comes to honoring death, loss and endings. Grief continues after the funeral ends. We don’t have ritual to teach us how to respond to feelings of grief, either our own or that of others. Grief needs to be expressed in order to move through it, and it’s taboo to talk about real feelings with others, especially if they are difficult ones. In many cases, even the people we are closest too, our family and friends, are not equipped to support us, through no fault of their own.
It’s also important to acknowledge that grief is not limited to dealing with death. Loss of any kind can trigger feelings of grief. As an example, consider someone who experiences a physical injury that reduces her mobility. There is a loss in the sense that life as she has known it – with full physical mobility – is over.
Sometimes “positive” life events can trigger feelings of grief. For example, a long-anticipated and deeply desired baby is born. Alongside joy, there might be feelings of grief related to losing the freedom and independence of life before becoming a parent.
The most significant grieving I experienced in my own life was related to my mother, who is a narcissist, and who is still alive. I grieved for the unconditional love I always wanted from my mother but never received. This type of maternal nurturing is reserved for children from mothers. It’s not something I can expect as an adult from another adult. The ship has sailed, and I will never experience this type of love during my lifetime.
Feeling grief is the only way to get past it and move on. The good news is that endings are followed by beginnings. That’s the nature of life. Even in death, the physical properties of the body return to the earth and contribute to future growth. Beautiful things can result from coping with loss. By grieving you are making room for something new, and new things can be good things that you never even expected.
For more information on grief support near you click here.
About the Author
Diana Calvo is a coach who helps people get unstuck and transform their day-to-day experience of work and life. After 20 years successfully climbing the corporate ladder, Diana experienced her own journey of healing and awakening. She discovered her true calling to guide others on their journey out of suffering and into a life of purpose and joy. Diana left the corporate world to start her own coaching business. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her dog Joey and a beautiful view of the mountains. She works with clients across the globe.