What is grief after a loss and why is it important?

sweet-sorrow by Sherry Cormier

By Sherry Cormier, PhD

Grief is the experience of feeling sad, sorrowful, and bereaved following some kind of a loss. Most of us feel this way after life hands us a loss because of our attachments to a person, place, or thing. When we lose the person or thing our attachment gets severed and our sense of safety is often disrupted as well. We get used to living our lives in a particular pattern and when this pattern changes, many of us feel uncomfortable. Yet it is in this place of discomfort that we have the potential to really  grow, particularly if we can make friends with our grief and sadness.

We used to think of grief of particular stages that one goes through after a loss in order to heal. Now we believe that grief is more cyclical than linear and the intensity of it can ebb and flow just like the tides of an ocean that go in and out. Sometimes the waves of grief are very strong and at other times they diminish.

Processing our grief is important because eventually the energy associated with these feelings of sadness and sorrow can be transformed and allow room for other emotions to emerge such as joy and vitality. But when grief is avoided, the energy of it remains and over time can result in both anxiety and anger. Further, when our grief is unprocessed, we can get stuck in it like quicksand and feel unable to grow.

When we process our grief, we open the door to the possibility of being awakened by the loss. Our new questions become things like “What in ME has died with this particular loss?” and “What is yearning to be reborn?” Eventually we live into answers to these kinds of questions and discover that within the loss, a hidden gift may emerge.

Listen to the radio show with Sherry & Dr. Jeanette:

Sherry Cormier, PhD, is a licensed psychologist, a certified bereavement trauma specialist, and the author of “Sweet Sorrow: Finding Enduring Wholeness After Loss and Grief.” Visit her website at: https://sherrycormierauthor.com.