There is no right or wrong way to handle grief. Grief comes in many different forms including a loved one dying, the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, or even children growing up and leaving for college. We all experience grief in our own unique way. For some, the process may take months or years while others may struggle with grief over the course of their entire lifetime.
From a spiritual perspective, grieving is often linked with a lifelong lesson of abandonment. It is something that we come face-to-face with many times throughout our lives. Often one loss can trigger the memory of other losses we have had in our lifetime. The lesson in abandonment is not so much about being left but about how we react to the loss.
As a society, people tend to support the grieving process around death as socially acceptable. However, we often judge the amount of time someone should grieve based on the relationship with the deceased, closeness of the relationship, and the age of the person who has died. There is no right or wrong way to grieve or no precise remedy to heal. Grief is a very personal process for each person.
While our society tends to emphasize grief in the context of death, there are many others who experience grief based on a loss that has nothing to do with death. Divorce and breakups of significant relationships have a very large component of grief even if we are happy to see the relationship end. Some may miss the intimacy or reliability of the relationship and others may just be happy it’s over. In either case, at some point, we loved or cared for this person and had hopes and plans for the future that will never be realized. Letting go of our “happily ever after” is part of the grieving process at the end of any relationship.
Recognizing our own grief and loss, honoring ourselves and our own process, and not judging another’s grief process is all part of the human experience. We should not judge what it looks like, how it feels, or the way others may be treating us. In some families, loss can trigger relationship problems that may not have been prevalent before. This may make the loss feel more intense because the relationships we relied on for stability are also changing as we grieve.
There is no magic cure or pill for grief. It is something that all humans experience. Often how we fill the hole of grief can directly determine how we handle the loss. If we fill the hole of divorce with anger and resentment, we are bound to be bitter. If we fill the hole of death with blame and self-criticism over what we could have done, we often cause ourselves more pain and stretch out the process. What would happen if we filled the hole of grief about job loss with the hope for new and better opportunities on the horizon? What if we filled the loss of divorce with gratitude and understanding, even if we feel wronged? How would it feel to fill the hole of death with gratitude, laughter, and good memories, no matter how few and far between?
What if we all decided to honor each other’s grief and support each other in the process? What if we stopped saying things like “suck it up” and “just move on”? If we can see that we all experience grief and the pain of loss, we can empower and honor the journeys of others as well as our own.