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Grief Is Not Always Because of a Death, But It Is Always Because of a Loss

Updated on March 14, 2019
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

Grief: Definitions

Many people associate the word "grief" with the death of a loved one, family member friend, and even a pet. While death tops the list, there are other things that people grieve about.

The dictionary definition of grief is "a keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss. It is a sharp sorrow; painful regret."

Over the years, grief counselors, therapists, and ministers have come up with some profound definitions for grief when someone is dealing with death.

  1. “Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind.”
  2. “Grief is the sad feelings one gets when something ends or there is a change in a familiar pattern of behavior.”
  3. “Grief is the feeling of reaching out for someone who has always been there, only to discover when you need the person just one more time, the person is no longer there.”
  4. “Grief is the feeling of reaching out for someone who has never been there for you only to discover the person won't ever be there for you."
  5. In the case of a divorce, “Grief is the feeling of reaching out for someone who had been there at one time, only to discover that the person is no longer there even though the person is still alive."

Grief Isn't Always About Death

Grief is not always about death. Grief is about loss. Grief is such a wide topic that covers so many kinds of losses. Many people grieve the loss of an unlimited list of things. While grief is not always about death, it is always about a loss of something a person has been attached to.

It is about the loss of an attachment of some kind no matter how shallow or deep the attachment. Of course, separations from deeper attachments are the hardest.

That loss involves many things, and death is just one of them. Those things could include the following:

  • loss of a marriage
  • loss of a career
  • loss of health
  • loss of financial security
  • the loss of youth

Some losses are easier to deal with than others. People still grieve the loss, but if the loss is expected, the person has a chance to plan for it and adjust to it before it actually happens. For example, if you know you are going to be divorced, you plan for it in advance. Grieving the loss in advance often helps ease the pain a bit.

On the other hand, sometimes knowing about an upcoming loss adds stress to the situation and the person is relieved when it actually happens.

However, if it catches you off guard, then you have two things to deal with: the surprise of the loss and the loss itself.

Wheather it is a predictable or an unpredictable loss, grief still needs an outlet.

Separation From Attachments

People could be attached to something as small as a favorite pen. If they lose it, they grieve. However, they do not share that with anyone because others would think it is foolish to grieve the loss of a ballpoint pen.

A person experiences many losses during his lifetime. Someone might have lost a job, a house, a car, a business, and relationships. Even a divorce is a loss that should be grieved. The grief is not limited to death. The loss of anything should be grieved. Anything you have been attached to and lost deserves to be grieved. Nothing is exempt from the list.

Unacknowledged Losses

Some losses are not acknowledged though they should be: Some examples include the loss of personal property such as a repossessed car, a foreclosed house, a broken relationship, loss of a job or job promotion, and even the loss of one's youth.

Do you know you can grieve losing your youth? You lose your hair, your teeth, and your memory. You are not the person you used to be and you miss the you that you once were. It is a natural process to lose some things as you age.

Some changes you take in stride, but others affect you deeply. You lose some privileges as you age. You might lose your ability to drive long distances or at night like you used to. There might come a time when you will have to surrender your driver's license. That's a loss, and it is appropriate to grieve it.

Reactions to Grief

Grief is real no matter what causes it. Not only does grief involve many losses, it also has many other feelings that go along with it. Most of those feelings are normal reactions.

  • Feelings of loneliness
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Loss of control of your thoughts
  • Having difficulty concentrating on important things
  • Numbness
  • Guilt over what you might have done wrong to cause the pain
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Irritability, frustration, and anger
  • Listlessness, lethargy, and melancholy
  • Exhaustion and being overwhelmed
  • Wanting to be left alone

Every Loss Deserves to Be Grieved

Every grief should be acknowledged. Even if others don't acknowledge your grief, make sure you do. There are some things people might think are odd to be grieved. No one should dictate to someone else what to grieve or how long to grieve.

Grief is a very strong emotion that doesn't respond to what others say should be done about it.

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