Deriving meaning from death and loss is acceptable to some and not to others. Acknowledging that something good came out of the experience of loss can feel like there is something good about the death, and a betrayal of the one who died. But, it is not about rationalizing away the significance of life lost. Quite the contrary, deriving meaning is founded in the fact that death, loss, and grief are natural to being human, and each of us will be challenged to face and incorporate this truth into our self in a healthy way.
A developmental point of view provides perspective. Throughout our life we must see our way through, and beyond, natural developmental challenges. Most of these are chronological, occurring as a result of age and time of life. Death does not adhere to a time frame. It can present itself at any time, and we may respond differently depending on the time in our life it presents. To allow this profound existential experience to pass without having a maturing influence is, in itself, a loss.
Death, loss, and grief are essential elements of existence. Death challenges our mind while grief challenges the limits by which we define our self. We may be thrown into an experiential realm of our self that, heretofore, we have not traveled. Landscape, territory, and journey are common metaphors applied to the experience of grief. All imply observation, exploration, discovery, and growth. Deriving meaning from the experience of death, loss, and grief is about observing and exploring our personal journey through this universal human landscape. It is about discovery of who we are and the world we live in.
Personal growth comes about when we find new understanding of our self and the world to be useful in our pursuit of a rich and satisfying life. Finding meaning may be simple and straightforward, or it may be an arduous struggle with conflicting emotions and values. However your personal experience is, deriving meaning is a catalyst for progressing through grief. In contrast, the absence of anything meaningful, or the feeling it is meaningless, can accentuate suffering.
Each of us brings our unique personality, life experience, and timing to loss. As we mourn, finding expression for our grief and easing our pain and disruption, we can be open to the development and evolution of personal meaning derived from the confrontation with death, loss, and grief.
Read more about What Helps on the following pages.
What Helps | Allowance | Acknowledgment | Remembering | Support | Acceptance | Meaning | More Reading