Grief is a normal part of life. With every loss we experience, however large or small, there is a grieving process that ensues. We may not always be consciously aware that we are grieving or we may not allow it, but grief is there. And if we don’t grieve fully, it will harm us in the long run, popping up in unexpected ways. Years of buried grief, loss, and anger can actually manifest as anxiety and panic. Unresolved grief may also lead to depression.
We grieve as children and as adults. With each life stage, we encounter losses in leaving the previous stage behind. Grieving a loss (of a loved one, a relationship, a pet, a home, or even a hobby), a move to a new city, a change of job, a change in our health- this is normal. All changes, endings, and the simple passage of time may bring grief to us in varying degrees.
As normal as grief is to the human experience, so is the tendency to push it away, trying to avoid and resist it. Some of us have become very good at stuffing our grief way down into the depths of our being and not allowing ourselves to fully experience it. Yet there is something so healing when we finally allow it to be present. Feeling the painful and difficult emotions brings a release and cleansing that ultimately brings closure with the ability to let go. In order to get to this place of peace, we must allow grief to run its course.
Allowing the strong feelings of grief is not weakness; it is a sign of strength. Good emotional health and the healing process of life requires making time and space regularly for necessary grieving – feeling the painful feelings and letting them have enough room to wash through you and eventually dissolve.
Stacey Wald, LAPC, RD