Grief Recovery, How to Handle Loss

Tuesday, March 24, 2009 23:00
Posted in category Divorce
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Post written by Rick Doyle

Grief Recovery, How to Handle Loss

What is Grief Recovery?  We thought we would discuss covering the best and not so best ways of handling grief, loss of a relationship.

According to Gallup polls, the least talked about topic in America is grief. Interesting enough, in all of the Library of Congress there are only five references to the words grief and recovery. It is my understanding that when we are born, we are born with a spiritual aspect, an emotional aspect and intellectual aspect to our being. Children are in harmony and present with feelings and nature. Children are also intuitive in thought and action until adults start questioning a child’s behaviors. In a very short time we are taught to question our feelings and as a result begin to rely exclusively on intellect. The result is that we learn to deny our emotional and spiritual aspects with regards to bad feeling. We are taught to express only good ones. What grief recovery is, is rediscovering feelings that are normal and natural and the process of reviewing and closing relationships. Divorce is just one ending of a relationship that requires healthy closure.

The way society treats grievers is abnormal. For example, it is not uncommon to see a person express a greater sense of loss for a pet than a human being. The key element that allows a sense of a greater loss for a pet than a human being is the unconditional love factor. The unconditional love factor is much more easily expressed and fulfilled with an animal or pet rather than a human. This is because we place conditions and expectations on humans and our human relationships. Losing a relationship due to a divorce may involve maintaining contact due to children or parenting issues which differ greatly from the loss of a relationship where death makes continued contact permanent and unquestionably limited.  Frequently some of our earliest lessons regarding grief, grieving and loss involve senseless lies and idiotic innuendos. For example, when a child’s Grandfather dies, do you till the child that “Grandpa has gone to sleep” or that “Grandpa has gone to Heaven”? The child then sees Grandpa put into a box and buried in the ground. I am sure that this is not the child’s idea of Heaven, but this is much more likely to induce an understanding of Hell. Telling the child that Grandpa is asleep now gives the child two interpretations of sleep. The first interpretation is the sleep that the child knows, bedtimes, naps etc. But now the child has a new definition of sleep, Grandpa’s sleep, which now appears to be permanent. Six months later the child’s grades start slipping in school. The school and the parents feel that the child has a problem with rebellion. The reality of the situation is that the child is exhausted from chronic nightmares and insomnia from a fear of forever going to sleep like Grandpa.

Another common mistake of parents is to tell a child when their first or favorite pet dies, “Don’t feel bad, we’ll get you another one”. In other words, rather than deal with the loss of the relationship, simply replace it. This is insane. The relationship that the child developed with the first animal was unique to that animal. The replacement animal cannot and will not possess the same qualities and characteristics of the first animal. Therefore it will be unique and different and cannot replace the first animal. Quite simply, you cannot replace your Grandfather either. Divorce and Mommy number 3 or Daddy number 4 is equally disturbiung to children. Of additional note is the fact that during times of loss grievers will hear 141 clichés. Out of 141 phrases senselessly slung at grievers, approximately 19 are helpful and 122 are not helpful. The lesson to be learned here is by not telling children the truth and so they frequently never learn closure with regards to relationships.

Remember your first boyfriend/girlfriend; what’s his/her name? After you broke up you cried for 4 days, failed to have any appetite for a week and were sure life was at an end at the ripe old age of 15. What brilliant and valuable advice was given to you by your parents? “It’s okay, there are other fish in the sea”. “Time will heal all wounds”. Well time doesn’t heal anything, scars are scars and I didn’t know I was dating a fish. The old “replace it rather than resolve it” attitude prevails once again.

Much like a death, grief results when relationships have not been properly closed. To properly close a relationship you must grieve, review the relationship and allow the emotional and spiritual feelings to evolve in order to complete the relationship and move on. Society has taught us that others are 99% responsible (blame, excuses, guilt throwing, etc.). Only the truth and accepting responsibility for your percentage of the relationship can complete any particular relationship. Frequently, the emotional and spiritual cage that we lock ourselves into only has two bars, in which we choose to hang on to. Rather than accepting our percentage of responsibility (the Key) which is necessary for freeing ourselves from the losses, in many cases individuals will state that similar deaths can only be understood by the same. This is ridiculous! Love is love. Emotions are emotions. Pain is pain. Loss is loss. This is an excuse to avoid dealing with feelings. We must also be aware of the loss of trust experienced with God, in which people tell others “it must have been part of God’s plan” or “only God knows why your child had to die”. Yet this somehow does not seem to be any justification of rationalization for the information you received growing up which is, trust the All Mighty. Learn to forgive people for their ignorance rather than expect them to meet your needs.

Society has badly equipped and misinformed us when it comes to most of us appropriately dealing with grief recovery. When approaching someone who is grieving and struggling with their loss these things might come in helpful:

1. Tell the truth about yourself (ie. I care about you or I am concerned for you).

2. “When I have experienced losses in the past it felt like… How do you feel?” Then SHUT UP AND LISTEN! Let the griever express themselves.

Be careful not to support larger than life memory pictures. This prevents people from completing their relationship and their losses. There is documented evidence indicating that as many as 41 types of cancer have been linked to unresolved grief energy. If one does not close each relationship they will continue to remain stuck in that relationship in a cyclic demeanor of frustration and repetition. How many bad relationships do you have to have before you realize that one must bring closure to prevent repetitious patterns of denial of loss. It is becoing far to common to see people with 3,4,5 or more failed relationships and mariages ending in painful divorce to deny that failure to close one relationship after the next might just be a contributing factor to why they pick the next doomed relationship, trying to resolve what they didn’t process or close the previous 3,4,5 or more times.

It seems that ongoing grief has been called many things over the last decades.  In the 60’s it was called “Burnout”, the 70’s it was “Pressure”, the 80’s it was “Stress” and in the 90’s the most popular term was “Free Floating Anxiety” (FFA). It would seem that every decade we simply rename the things we don’t understand. However, through grief recovery, bringing appropriate closure to relationships, expressing the normal and natural feelings of spiritual and emotional loss can lead to eventual acceptance and forward progression without repeated past mistakes in healthy new relationships. By breaking the rules of societies misinformation, peace, serenity and a healthy sense of completeness can be achieved. Remember you cannot think your way into right action. But you can act your way into right thinking.  Please feel free to share your experiences with us as everyone has lost a relationship with someone at some point and we all have different ways of dealing with it or having dealt with those who didn’t deal with it very well.

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4 Responses to “Grief Recovery, How to Handle Loss”

  1. Courgerummive says:

    July 15th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Aloha people, lovely website I find It positively helpful and its helped me out loads
    I hope to be able to give something back and assist other people like this website has helped me;-)

  2. Junior says:

    June 23rd, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Hmmm…great to find out, there were definitely some things which I hadn’t thought of before.

  3. avawouters65 says:

    June 17th, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    We absolutely enjoyed the current comments. Please continue this superb blog. Cheers!!

  4. trumny says:

    April 28th, 2010 at 6:28 am

    Yes, that is true, I agree with you, but I am not sure if there are no other options.

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