Death and grief are inevitable human experiences. Our innate drive and need to secure attachments and build relationships with others binds us to the experience of loss and grief. Below are some basic principles to keep in mind as you read about loss and grief.
The drive to form attachments is with us when we enter the world and endures throughout our lifetime. Establishing relationships is basic to our humanity. The absence of healthy relationships results in suffering. Our painful fate stems from the fact that we cannot secure our relationships. Mortality ensures that all of our attachments are ultimately severed by death, if not earlier for some other reason. Life includes events that are unpredictable and beyond our control. All of us will face our limits throughout our life. Anticipated or not, death evokes the experience of loss and the accompanying painful grief.
Grief is a natural consequence of a loss. It is inherently and universally human. It is the expected response to the death of someone important to you.
There is no shame in grieving. Grief is a representation of the bond you have to the person who died. The bond is meaningful, and the severance of the bond is painful and disruptive.
Though grief can be intensely painful, destabilizing, and necessitate support, it is not a mental illness or sign of psychological instability.
Grief is an inevitable part of living. Understanding grief and developing meaningful ways to mourn will be helpful.
Mourning is an active process of acknowledging the importance of the person who died and your loss of them. It includes remembering and honoring life shared with them, and finding meaningful expression for your grief. Grief and mourning are not processes of forgetting and “moving on with your life”, acting as if the person who died never existed.
Relationships characterized by disappointment, conflict, abuse, and estrangement complicate grief and mourning.
Grief is a paradox. Though it is universal and we all share common grief reactions, each person’s experience of loss and grief are unique. It is an experience of the most personal nature.
Personal growth is a beneficial outcome of a healthy progression of grief and mourning. Experiencing your personal response to loss without judgment about how you should or should not feel, devoting time to mourn, and integrating this universal human experience into the individual you are will be helpful to you in living.
Regardless of your faith, or lack thereof, in God or a Higher Power, we can all have faith in the timelessness of the human experience of grieving. We can know that we are not alone in the human family with our grief. Many have preceded us and many are grieving simultaneously. Mourning is long established as a remedy for grief, and a way of coming to accept the reality of our loss. Support is an integral part of this process.
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Definitions | Grief | Starting Points | The Universal Response | The Pain | Paradox | The Personal Side | Personal & Relationship | Timing & Circumstances | Culture & Religion | Mourning | Making Time to Mourn | "Closure" | Never Too Late | Owning Our Grief | What Helps | Allowance | Acknowledgment | Remembering | Support | Acceptance | Meaning | Complications to Grief | Alcohol & Drugs | Conflicted Relationships | Multiple Losses | Risk of Harm | Stigmas and Traumas