When the word "grief" crosses your mind, what emotions and images come to the forefront? Is it the heart-wrenching anguish that follows the departure of a loved one or the painful end of a once-cherished relationship? Grief, however, encompasses far more than just death; it includes loss of a job or financial hardships. It is a complex response to loss, manifesting in various forms. It breeds uncertainty about the future, provoking anxiety and confusion. It stirs a deep yearning for what could have been and fosters an almost compulsive fixation on the past. If you've ever experienced loss, you might recall the relentless cycle of "what ifs" that plagued your thoughts. What if you had uttered those words or taken a different path? Unfortunately, this game can feel like an endless merry-go-round, filled with intrusive thoughts and further complicating an already heavy and isolating journey.
Regardless of the type of loss endured, its impact takes on many shapes, the stages of denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance that we often anticipate. In the case of a shattered relationship, we find ourselves unable to let go of what once was, grappling with the need to accept change, teetering on the edge of crisis, and striving to regain equilibrium. Yet, instead of following a linear trajectory, the experience resembles the untamed scribbles of a toddler's artwork on your walls. The truth is that grief and loss are inherently unjust, and no two individuals grieve in the same way.
The contrast between our expectations and reality can be overwhelmingly complicated to reconcile. However, it is crucial to remember that this journey is entirely personal and marked by its unique circumstances. Grief stands as one of the loneliest paths an individual can tread. In my encounter with grief, I was encompassed by uncertainty, isolation, and an all-consuming fear of the future. To those who can relate, I ask you: do you recall the pressure to "move on" or the insinuation that you had mourned for long enough? Here's the truth: there is no prescribed timeline for grief. Its grip can endure for years, and it has many cultural implications. We must refrain from passing judgment on others during their grieving process. Each culture harbours its beliefs surrounding life and death, offering a framework for individuals to cope and find solace amidst the pain.
Navigating the grieving process is a unique undertaking and causes a whirlwind of pain and emotions. A few ways to deal with this process include emotional support from loved ones or practitioners. Emotional and physical self-care and the acceptance and acknowledgement of the pain and unexpected emotions that come with grief. Show yourself compassion and surround yourself with those who don’t have unrealistic expectations or agendas on your healing. We may never fully heal, and that’s okay.