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GRIEF – the last thing we want, but the most important thing we could feel

Grief is a tough topic to write about. It can expose a raw nerve. Grief is a feeling, an emotion that we as humans experience, one that makes us feel as if our hearts have been turned inside out or that we have lost a part of ourselves.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, grief is defined as “intense sorrow……” Normally grief is as a result of loss, loss through death, or loss of something through change. It may even be loss of a particular environment, routine, a relationship or a reputation. In being a transition coach, I have noticed that people don’t necessarily resist change, but they resist the associated loss.

Change is loss and loss requires grief. Grief is normal and can be healthy. It’s a sign that you are alive and in touch with your world. According to some models, there are 5 stages, but I personally resonate with the 7-stage model outlining what you could potentially go through on experiencing grief:

1. Shock and denial

2. Pain and guilt

3. Anger and bargaining

4. Depression

5. The upward turn

6. Reconstruction and working through

7. Acceptance and hope

Knowing that these emotions and cycles are normal and to be expected, helps us face and work through them. Different people will experience them to different degrees.

Grief is one of the hardest things you will have to face. But it is imperative that you try and work through the components of grieving; ask yourself how might it be helpful to grieve that loss today, to move forward feeling whole:

  • Name what it is that you have lost

  • Allow yourself to feel and to face your pain

  • Is there something you can or need to do that will honour what has been lost or to honour your pain?

  • Recognise that grieving is unique to each individual. It is definitely not predictable nor is it a straightforward process.

Give yourself time and know that grief may surprise you when you are most vulnerable. A reminder of a smell, taste, photo or song may bring back a flood of memories. Be OK with it. Don’t be hard on yourself. Be grateful for your experience, how it was, keep the special memories available to you, be present in the moment and then seek to find a new joy.

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