The Multiple Faces of Grief

Grief is a multifaceted thing. It’s not just the emotive sense of loss or the process of bereavement. Nor can it really be defined by who feels it and why.

You may feel that you own the sense of loss you feel and that no one else understands how much the loss of your loved one hurts, but you should bear in mind that you don’t have a monopoly on that feeling. Others are perfectly entitled to share much of the same emotional pain that you do.

The thing about a sense of loss that can make it so hard to deal with is that it can bring back much of the pain from previous losses.

Your loss is blurred and hard to pin down (in effect, making it harder to process) because it is multiple. Not only have you lost someone close to you, but you have lost the person you were when you were around them. Now it’s time to become someone new, only that new person seems to be someone who is being forged in the fire of pain, and that means you want to reject them.

The future you had envisioned will change too, so you are also losing an imagined future version of you. Can you see why there are so many layers to grief?

It’s not selfish to grieve about your own loss; in fact, it is beneficial to make those feelings known to others.

While intellectually astute observations are often made about the process of grief and recovery during the time of loss, they seem like platitudes to the bereaved. Their truest meaning is not heard because bereavement is an emotional time. Emotions are too strong for intellectual arguments to have any meaning. It’s only by being heard and understood by others that you may journey through the process of grief and feel as if you are healing.

Whether death occurred slowly and acted as a welcome release, or quickly and left you in shock, will also taint your feelings about the event. Did you get the chance to say goodbye or have you been left with the anxiety of things left unsaid, or an argument left unresolved?

However, grief comes to you at the time of your loss, it will need you to unravel its many layers. That’s a slow process, so don’t rush it. Take the time now to allow yourself to experience each emotion, examine it and find the root, then wait for the next one. Not every experience will come with a multitude of layers – some will allow you to move on faster than others. Be thankful for those and understand that the grief has been no less powerful – it just had fewer facets.