Learn about the common emotional reactions that comprise grief, specifically, sadness, helplessness, anger, and disappointment
- Many years ago, I experienced five major losses spanning one September to September year. In those 12 months, a relationship ended, I lost two close friends, and I lost my grandmother and my father to death. It took some time to move through the grief from those collective losses. Now, most people associate loss with that of relationship. It could be loss involving the death of, or the separation from a spouse, a partner, a parent, perhaps a grandparent, a brother or sister, even a boyfriend or girlfriend, a cousin, or a friend. Loss of relationship may also mean the loss of a pet. Yet it's really important to think of loss in much broader terms. It can also include the loss of many other aspects of life, like health, or mobility, or employment, or finances, financial status, home, safety, prestige, reputation, status, even stability, or opportunity. And loss seems to imply change, or something different than it was before. Think about this, there will never be a moment in your life that will repeat, and you can never reexperience a moment that you have already lived. So life is really about change. Life involves the handling of the constancy of change, not the constancy of routine, and facing the unknown and uncertainty means tolerating the unfamiliar, and the unexpected. There are expected changes that follow the natural order of life. Watching children grow up, children leaving home for camp, or college, or travel, or work, or marriage. Changes in employment and career paths, or the loss of parents or other loved ones. Now most people seek stability in their lives. And they find that the predictability of change and the consistency of routine that they experience helps them feel safer and more secure in the world. Yet when things remain stable and predictable over long periods of time, it is so easy to believe that the status quo is the default setting for our lives. So take a few moments to think about how life can change on a dime. There are unexpected accidents, illness, or disease. Natural disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, or floods. All of those can destroy a home or take a life. Man-made insults and injuries can wipe out everything you have worked for, or have known. Everything can change in a matter of seconds. Having stability and predictability in your life is great. Yet, to successfully handle life's challenges and painful losses, in particular, you must develop your capacity to experience and effectively manage uncertainty and change. The most common emotional reaction to these losses and changes is grief, the deep, intense sorrow or distress, the longing, the mourning, or the sadness. That is simply part of our human nature when we experience loss. Most people associate grief, which I typically described as sadness, helplessness, anger, or disappointment. They associate it with the loss of relationships through separation or death. Now, this grief can be in response to changes too. You might feel singularly angry, sad, helpless, or disappointed with what you went through, or are even going through right now. And if these feelings are present, know those are the feelings of grief.
- Understanding difficult feelings
- Defining grief
- Dealing with loss and change
- Supporting grieving colleagues
- Returning to work