The Power of Grief
The Power of Grief
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
Grief makes us more alive than any other experience. It is the proof that we are committed to our lives in a meaningful way and that life matters to us. Grief is the razor-sharp experience of pain combined with the crushing isolation of loss. It imbues us with such tormented emotion that we can barely withstand its onslaught. Of all emotional experience, grief is the most defining and resolute. Its power is derivative of the depths of our soul’s reality and exposes us to our greatest potential, our uninhibited capacity to love unconditionally and to realise the enormity of that loss.
Because of this, grieving is the one 'emotion' that cannot be contained, nor dispensed with before the process is complete. We become non-functional and at the mercy of our emotions in a complete way, unlike any other feeling or experience. Our ability to progress through and deal with the aspects of grief, defines us and our thoughts and action for the remainder of life. There is no other experience that has this affect on our psyche and well-being.
Grief is the one experience that can build character and gain an understanding of whom we are, our strengths and weakness. In short grief brings us to our knees and renders us more vulnerable to the reality and understanding of our being and our mortality.
There are five stages of grief and to be able to overcome the experience they must be experienced fully.
1/ Denial and Isolation
At first we tend to deny the loss and withdraw from our usual social contacts. The shock and intensity of the loss is too overwhelming and the fear of this outcome drives us to create a wall of protection. This stage can be short in duration or can take a great deal longer, depending on the individual.
The second stage is anger. Often this anger is directed at the person who died, blaming them for the pain being inflicted, for letting this happen at all. Self-blame can also occur, for not being able to stop this event from happening, even if realistically nothing could have stopped it.
Often people turn to God and try to make a bargain asking...’if you take away the loss, I will do this or that.’
Although both anger and sadness remain, the person feels numb, the experience to the point of being so overwhelming that emotional isolation from it is necessary.
At this stage anger, sadness and mourning slowly begin to fade and acceptance of the reality of the loss is evident.
There are many conflicted feelings during the process of grief: sorrow, anger, shame, anxiety, guilt and loneliness to name a few. This can of course be stressful. But to deny these feelings and to not go through the five stages completely can make the process much more difficult and longer. Looking on the bright side or cutting yourself off from the grief by hiding or denying emotions simply makes the process more difficult and protracted.
Recovery from the stresses accompanying grief can happen more quickly with good self-care habits and a close circle of family and friends to support. A good diet, exercise and appropriate rest, without the need for alcohol or drugs can make all the difference. We are usually unprepared for grief and when tragedy strikes self-care is an important aspect of a quick and complete recovery and eventual acceptance.
Grief is indeed an overwhelming experience and can change our lives dramatically for a time. But the experience can help us too, to better understand ourselves and our potentials as a human being. Once recovered, the person may feel more complete emotionally and have a more balanced and broader perspective of life and how we should live it.
The best way to overcome pain is to immerse yourself in it, experience it fully. Fear is quite often the motivator and in the end it can inhibit the process of grief and make the experience worse. It is therefore important to allow yourself to experience the five steps and be kind to yourself for a full recovery.