Making Sense Of Loss and Grief

Grieving, though painful, is a natural process that can't be avoided without unhelpful consequences. One of the key elements of healthy grieving is allowing yourself to feel your emotions. This helps enormously, but often people push their feelings away, often because of the fear that they will become overwhelmed, and they won't be able to cope.

These are understandable fears when someone is faced with a big loss because it does feel overwhelming, and it can be hard to imagine how life will ever be the same again. When ignored, grief causes pain that is sometimes so difficult that people want to numb and escape it through blocking it out, including with alcohol or medications.

Others may try to avoid that pain by keeping themselves very busy or burying themselves in work. While this kind of distraction may help to get away from the pain in the short term, the feelings still need to be felt at some stage. Other people might avoid their own feelings because they have a sense of needing to be strong for others, or feeling that there is no-one who can support them but it can’t work in the long term. They may end up facing their grief for the first time years later. Often people find that in the meantime their relationships have really suffered.

Maybe it doesn't make much sense that letting yourself feel can be the very thing that helps making the feelings less acute in the long run. But in blocking the grieving process you block the return to the hope that life is worth living.

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