It’s time to talk about grief. You might be thinking, Katie, why on earth do you keep talking about such a negative topic? We’re used to you only talking about positive things. Well, someone needs to address the elephant sitting on the world. Someone needs to start talking about what grief actually is because:
- It has a horrible reputation and
- I’m watching my friends, family, and people that I don’t even know who are suffering and struggling.
I can blatantly see a lot of it’s about grief, but they don’t know that’s what it is because they are thinking in terms of the old definition of grief. The definition that links grief only to death and major loss. Instead of being able to work through what they are facing, they are getting stuck in the escape addiction hole. They are filling the emptiness inside them with negative things and trying to explain it in different ways. They are becoming reactive to others, even online, and triggered easily, and it’s all about grief.
This hidden and unresolved grief is creating tension everywhere. Actually, it’s not the grief doing this. It’s how people are responding to their grief. It’s time for us to have a better understanding of what grief is. It’s time to give people better tools to work on their grief, so they know they have options. Here are three truths about grief everyone should know:
1. Grief is a natural and normal part of life that occurs throughout our life.
Yep, this is the truth. We experience grief through transitions, changes, deaths, losses, and rites of passages. The ache of how things were before: grief. Nostalgia: a form of grief. Feeling an emptiness without knowing the cause: grief. People triggering you: (believe it or not) grief. It shows up in negative ways when it’s unresolved which causes people to think grief causes us to suffer. This leads me to my next point:
2. Grief doesn’t cause suffering. We do.
This is a tough concept to understand, but here’s how I like to explain it. The experience of grief does mean that we experience negative emotions for periods of time. The length is determined by the magnitude to us of the event AND how we tend to handle a variety of emotions. If you are likely to do the healing work and seek out support, you may find that the pain and negative emotions do not last as long. How we understand and define suffering is typically that a negative experience or emotion persists over a longer period of time than we would like. We suffer through it, basically. Our belief system about our ability to handle and sit with negative emotions creates the reality we experience thus the suffering.
3. Grief helps us grow when we are willing to experience it.
What do I mean by this? Think of a lotus. It grows in murky, muddy water. We need the murky, muddy experiences that create grief in order to develop like the beautiful lotus. Nature has a lot of these analogies: We need rain for a rainbow. We need winter for spring to come. We need fires in certain parts of the world for new plant life. The negative needs to occur so that the positive can follow. The positive for us means growth and developing further into who we are meant to be. The key is we need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable so that we can grow.
It’s time we start to talk about grief and speak truth to what it is versus what society has told us. We are so capable of handling the situations that grief follows and then grow from them, but we often have lost a belief in ourselves. We struggle because we often were not taught, whether by modeling or direct teaching, how to have emotional intelligence around negative emotions. It would be great if we could blame the adults in our lives growing up forever, but that’s not reality. We have to take ownership now for our own growth and re-learn how to experience all emotions. We need to de-condition false beliefs that grief is negative and see it as a tool for our growth.
Check out my book The New Face of Grief for practical tools on how to navigate the grief in your life.