As I reflect on the past 13 years I reflect on the stages of my own evolving consciousness that I have had to go through – sometimes once, sometimes over and over and some right now. I hope what I have learned may help you.
The effects of a significant loss, and the grief it causes, can manifest in many ways, all of which are real and natural, but some of which may seem unreasonable reactions at the time. It is helpful to recognise these reactions as they arise to be part of the grief process. These ways of responding to grief come and go and do not necessarily occur in a fixed sequence. Grief can also appear as ‘anticipatory grief’ before an event occurs.
Loss, change and control are three of the major psychological components of grief. How individuals express their pain depends upon a number of factors including their personality and the way they view the world. One of the hardest things for people who are grieving is ‘not knowing’ what to expect, especially in the first few months. Often they question whether their experience is ‘normal’ and wonder whether they are going crazy. Change is an inevitable consequence of loss, and how much change individuals have to navigate tends to correlate with the grief that is experienced.
How someone thinks about life has a significant impact on how they will grieve. The greater the discrepancy between what was assumed to have happened or what was expected to happen and what actually happened will make it more difficult to adapt to a loss or a change. This is one reason why the death of a child is considered to be one of the greatest losses as it challenges our beliefs about life and death and the way we think things ‘should’ be.
Expectations also play a significant role in beliefs about progress. It is not uncommon to hear comments such as, ‘It’s been three months, I thought I’d be better by now’. Such comments reflect the ‘fix-it’ mentality of our society. We want things done immediately and we tend to have little patience. It’s no surprise then that people, including those who are grieving, believe that grief should be something they can ‘get over quickly’ so they can ‘return to normal’, in much the same way as they’d recover from an infection. The problem is that this view of grief is incorrect. Grief is not an illness with a prescribed cure – it’s a normal and expected response to any change or loss. It is a highly individualised process that involves many ups and downs.
Change is loss and loss requires grief. We don’t resist change – we resist loss. Even when change is due to the best of circumstances, it requires us to lose something – whether it be a routine, a relationship, familiarity, a place that holds memories, convenience, a reputation, a known experience.
Change means unknowns. Change means having to relearn something. Change requires you to face the reality that you’re not in control. And change often makes us face things within ourselves that we could conveniently avoid when things were status quo.
I believe there are some core components to this process of grieving:
Name what has been lost; Allow yourself to feel; Consider if there is something you need to do to honor your pain or what has been lost; Recognize that grieving is not a linear or predictable process.
Grief can often be surprising and strike us when we are most vulnerable. A smell, a taste, a word spoken can bring with it a flood of thoughts and emotions that require going back to step one above. That is how grief works. It is an ongoing, unpredictable process.
If change is loss and loss requires grief…it logically follows that change requires grief. Have you considered this in your life? Even changes that are bringing about something good have some element of loss intertwined with them when we stop to fully consider it.
Kevin T. Cahill is an award winning sales professional and consultant specializing in the art of managing change and achieving great results. As the founder of The Change Revolution, this international best selling author and speaker inspires men and women alike. As someone who has mastered the art of resilience and hope, Kevin’s philosophy as a clarity builder is strategic and results driven. Kevin’s passion is to equip individuals and organizations with a renewed sense of clarity and excitement, knowing that positive change will bring about positive gains. His exciting creation The Change Revolution offers a winning blueprint for navigating through change and achieving success.
Speaking inquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 519-836-7989.