Grief Is a Learning Process: Find Out Why
You feel grief when you lose something valuable. It’s a farewell, a goodbye to someone or something you only ever thought about positively before. However, although grief is a process that nobody ever wants to experience, sometimes, it can be extremely restorative. That’s what happens when you understand that grief is a learning process.
You need sadness and other associated emotions so your brain can process and assimilate loss. Therefore, you shouldn’t really consider them as negative or dysfunctional emotions and try to deny them. In fact, you should think of them as being completely the opposite.
It’s thanks to sadness, desolation, and frustration that you actually make contact with reality. You experience grief and finally can be reborn and continue with your life, even if there’s something that’s now missing from it.
For this reason, it’s important not to view the grieving process as an enemy to be avoided. Grief is a part of life and, sooner or later, everyone has to face this kind of pain. Whether it’s due to the loss of a loved one, a break-up of a relationship, or news of an illness, you feel grief to help you adapt to this new situation.
For this reason, when you feel grief, you should engage with all the feelings you’re experiencing. Because the wounds of your soul are much the same as other wounds. After all, when you have a cut, after disinfecting it and cleaning it, you leave it exposed to the open air because it accelerates the healing process. These actions are painful but essential.
The stages of grief
According to psychology, and depending on which particular expert you consult, grief is a process that has stages. In the early stages, you experience shock, disbelief, or denial. Later, you move onto more intense emotions such as anger, depression, or desolation. Finally, you reach the phase of acceptance. That’s when you finally feel calm enough to carry on with your life.
Despite what the theories say, everyone has their own way of dealing with grief. In fact, while these phases are typical, you might not experience them all.
On the other hand, you might find that certain phases last longer than others. Or you might experience the phases in a different order. What doesn’t change is that acceptance comes at the end of the entire process, once you’ve had a chance to go through all your emotions.
Therefore, you shouldn’t put all your energy into trying to cover up your feelings. Indeed, our society and culture have a tendency to deny negative emotions. For instance, people don’t tend to cry in public or talk about their emotions unless they’re positive ones. In fact, if you see a distressed or desperate person, you might even think of them as weak or overdramatic.
It’s actually better not to make emotional judgments and just let things flow instead. If your circumstances are making you experience feelings of sadness, those feelings really need to surface.
What happens when you get entrenched in grief?
If you suffer a loss in your life and just stick a Band-Aid on it without cleaning it up first, you stop the wound from healing. You’ll probably find yourself entrenched in grief. Furthermore, the grief will get worse and continue for longer.
It’s a paradox. Sometimes, the more you try and avoid your grief, the more you submerge yourself in it. In fact, you become afraid of moving to a position where you might start to feel differently, so you take desperate steps not to do so.
Doctors will prescribe psychopharmaceuticals to stop you from facing a flood of emotions. People around you will tell you to “move on”. Furthermore, you’ll avoid talking or even thinking about your loss.
However, avoiding the experience will just lead to an ongoing timetable of grief for you. In fact, after trying so hard to avoid your demons, they’ll end up controlling you. Furthermore, they’ll tend to hang around for a long time.
View grief as a learning process
Once you begin to understand grief as a learning process, you’ll find yourself in another place. A place where you’re able to learn and ultimately understand. Once you’ve managed this, you can go forward, little by little, and recover your life. You’ll be able to take stock and move on. You’ll realize there’s room for you to grow as a person. Furthermore, you’ll understand that it’s your journey of grief that’s given you this opportunity to learn.
Finally, understanding grief as a learning process means you no longer have to face it as if it were the enemy. In addition, you no longer have to feed the frustration that’s arisen from something you just can’t change. In fact, you’re able to naturalize the grief, which makes it easier for you to incorporate it into your life story.
You’ll ultimately understand that significant losses are rarely absolute losses. You’ll be able to recover your spirit, even though it might be feeling hurt and resentful at the moment. After all, it’s your emotions that remind you that you’re actually alive. Consequently, it’s better to stop judging them and accept them. Let them into your life and leave yourself open to what they’re telling you.
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- Montesinos, F., Páez, M. Vivir hoy el duelo. El Sector. nº76 (p. 6-9)