Grief is Hard, but THIS is Harder

By Natalie Jensen

One of the most devastating experiences we must endure in life is grieving the loss of a loved one.

Although Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) are very well known, they are imperfect: not everyone will experience those exact emotions. There is no roadmap and no timeline when it comes to grief.

Grief can come in many forms and affect us in countless ways: body, mind, and soul. It can be pushed to the back of our subconscious or hidden in parts of our lives we rarely visit. Grief is, however, a human experience and response that deserves and needs tending.

Whether it is days, months or even years old, grief can show up when least expected to remind us of its gravity and breadth. We may notice not feeling like ourselves physically (gastrointestinal issues, headaches, exhaustion). Our thoughts can be a flurry of worry, fear, disregard, and detachment. Our soul – our innermost self – can be battling to stay afloat and care at all. We may go through the motions of life and not recognize we have disengaged or isolated. 

Grief is work, avoiding grief is even more work.

– David Kessler

We can choose to suppress grief’s attention-seeking signals, but as Kessler suggests, complete disregard for grief’s journey might create a more difficult path. Taking a pause and honoring some of our deeper grief emotions can be challenging. Yet, if these emotions are left in a box, ignored, or continually deferred, they may show up for us in far more egregious ways. 

We may find ourselves unable to focus or find motivation. We may lash out towards loved ones or notice growing frustration toward anything and everything. We may feel like a ping pong ball bouncing between deep sadness and a strong sense of longing to understand “why.”

Giving ourselves permission to process our grief supports other areas of life needing our energy and attention (family, friends, work). Talking to a professional with experience in grief counseling can help you understand and honor the intense emotions you may be feeling as well as overcome obstacles to your healing.

Grief Group Counseling

Sometimes, the greatest discovery in your grief experience is that you do not need (or want) to be alone. We can learn from and with others sharing their experiences with grief and loss. In fact, we as human beings are wired to connect with others. It is part of the path toward healing.

We invite you to consider joining an upcoming Grief, Loss & Life group, where you can develop skills to navigate the ever-changing journey through grief and loss. Your story and life experience are valued, treasured, and honored in this environment. Read more about the group, or contact group leader and Sunstone counselor, Natalie Jensen, to be added to an interest list for Fall 2022 sessions.

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Filed under: Grief, Group Counseling

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