Grieving is normally associated with the death of a loved one. While this is the most well-known time to grieve, we also must grieve each loss we experience. If we don’t intentionally grieve our losses, the weight of it gets buried, only to rise again with our next loss. When my grandmother died, I was too young to process it fully. For many years, I couldn’t even speak of her without tearing up. It wasn’t until my mother died, twenty years later, that I finally processed Grandma’s death. We were never taught how to grieve, or how much lighter the burden becomes when we do so.
The Kubler-Ross model for grief has five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages aren’t linear, stages may be repeated, and there is no time limit. That said, if a grief period is lingering past the one-year mark, it may be helpful to reach out for some support from a counselor. Having an outside party involved may help you to see things you never knew were there. While there is no time limit, life is easier when you’re healed. Take the time you need, but keep moving.
The bigger issue is this: We must grieve ALL our losses. It’s obvious that death is a loss, but what about lifestyle change? Or disillusionment? 2020 brought inflicted changes to the lifestyle of many. The very thought of mandatory medication can be a huge disillusionment to the idea of freedom. These are real losses. It’s normal to grieve. In fact, we all need to.
I have been living with a degenerative disease for over twenty years. I lose physical abilities on a regular basis. It took a few years to figure out that the only way to keep moving forward was to grieve each loss (deeply) as it came. At first, I would be emotionally down for days while I hurt and healed. The time got shorter with practice. Now I can move through most losses of ability in a matter of hours, or even minutes. I’ve learned to minimize denial, so I can keep the process moving. Point is, the process gets faster with practice and intention.
Disillusionment is a big deal. We were brought up to believe life had certain fundamental truths, and we built our own lives on that foundation. The foundation is crumbling for many, and we need to acknowledge and grieve the loss. Are you disillusioned about the economy aka the American Dream? Have you found that your employer is really just a greedy corporation? Is your country not quite as free as you thought? Is politics really just about division, instead of choice? As Gloria Steinem told us, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off!” This describes the grief cycle of awakening. Many are stuck in the “anger” part of the grief cycle. You will become more effective as you allow yourself to heal.
Really allow yourself to feel the disillusionment of the current world. The last time an employer really cared about their employee was in the 1950’s. I have no idea how we are still promoting the concept of a safe, life-long career with a steady company. It’s okay to let that one go. “Good benefits with a retirement” can go also. The world is never going back to these ideas. I believe we will have much better ideas in the future, but we need to grieve and release the past.
Relationships are another area we don’t grieve properly. When romantic entanglements end, it is common advice that we should just forget that experience, and move on. Doing this only guarantees a repeat of that experience. If we took time to grieve the loss, maybe we wouldn’t keep finding the same dysfunction. This is easy to spot with childhood trauma. Whatever you went through will be repeated, until it is fully acknowledged and grieved.
How do you know when you’re healed? When you can talk about the issue without being thrown back into one of the five stages, most commonly anger or depression. If it still takes you there, put your energy toward intentionally healing. Please get help if you are stuck. Changing both yourself and the world is so much easier if you approach it as a healthy being.
The illusion is falling. The world isn’t how we thought it was. Take the time to fully feel and grieve your losses. Many people get stuck in denial, and cope by drowning their sorrows in addiction and distraction. Others are hardened by staying at the anger stage. Some pass their grief onto others through depression and suicide. The really courageous ones face their losses and fully grieve. Once healed, they can help others through their own shock and grief.
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