Grief and Loss – An Overview

Grief and loss are typically associated with death and dying, usually involving the loss of a loved one. But the category can also encompass loss of job, home or relationship as additional dimensions of experience. Grief resources and recovery programs are subsumed under this umbrella and are usually designed to help us with all aspects of loss.

Losing a loved one is what we typically associate with grief and loss. But losses of many types can also generate powerful grief reactions. We include here broken relationships, loss of a pet and loss of employment. When the loss experience strikes we immediately want relief and begin seeking some kind of recovery help.

Today we can see grief and loss associated with divorce, relationship breakup, pet grief and loss of employment. We can also see associations with the loss of ones home, place of business and career aspirations as some hopes and dreams never materialize. We tend not to see these as grief and loss categories, but in fact they are losses that affect us in similar ways as losing a loved one.

This article aims to point out the many common denominators grief and loss reveals over all of the above related dimensions. We grief our loved ones.  We mourn the loss of the family pet. We suffer over a recent breakup. We fall into depression over the loss of our job or business.

Whats at stake here? What is at the heart of the grief and loss experience? It is an emotional crisis characterized by deep feelings of hurt that are often masked with anger. We are feeling lost and afraid. Something precious has been taken away.  We are hurting, depressed and anxious. All of these reactions are typically associated with every category of grief and loss.

It becomes obvious that grief and loss affects many aspects of our life experience. Acknowledging this and accepting responsibility for our recovery from such stress reveals itself as necessary. We can regain our energy and drive by working through the effects of grief and loss. Since the experience is more common than previously thought, any effort we make to deal with grief and loss will have benefits across the breadth of our lives.

The cycle of life includes gaining, losing and gaining again. For example, when a snake crawls into the tall grass to shed its old skin, it’s because the new is emerging from underneath and pressing for release. Losses are typically categorized as devastating when, in fact, they are often a prelude to something better. Learning to let go, no matter what the circumstances is a valuable life lesson.

Losing a loved one is a powerful and devastating experience and one we never solicit consciously. This is the most difficult of all losses and we acknowledge that it is hard to see any benefit in it. But losing and gaining are with us everyday in a great variety of forms. Learning to cope with all types of loss will help us when the big losses strike. Finding the right resources is essential to managing our grief and loss experience.

Dealing with grief and loss requires that we face our emotions and work through them. Acquiring a good resource, turning toward family and friends and sharing our sorrow can lead to new and deeper relationships. There are secret benefits to all of life’s trials, even though it make take years to see them. The main lesson from grief and loss is that something awaits us on the other side of the experience.

Maurice Turmel PhD is a veteran grief and loss therapist with 25 years experience. He is the author of “How to Cope with Grief and Loss” audio ebook that has helped numerous individuals with their grief and loss recovery.

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