Grief is a universal experience that most of us will go through as we suffer losses that are a normal part of life. Bereavement doesn’t always connect to the death of someone we love. Just as we grieve the death of our loved ones, we also experience grief when we lose things that have significant meaning to us.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Does Everybody Grieve After a Loss?
- Why Is Grieving Important for Everyone?
- Why Is It Important to Talk About Grief?
While death and loss affect each of us differently, the process of grieving is how we navigate through these substantial losses and learn to live with our changed circumstances. The emotional reactions and psychological changes that affect us post-loss are what we call grieving. Grief is the inner meaning we give to our loss.
Does Everybody Grieve After a Loss?
Everyone has their unique way of processing traumatic events in their lives. While not everyone grieves after a significant loss, the death of someone close affects almost everyone to some extent.
While there are many types of grief, some individuals won’t allow themselves to experience it. But what they may not recognize is that denial is also a part of the normal grieving process. There are other, more specific reasons why some people grieve more than others and why some don’t grieve at all.
Individual behaviors following a life-altering experience vary from one person to the next. Because each person is different, so are their reactions to grief. Some people will never allow themselves to feel a connection to others or to material possessions that precipitate a grief reaction upon losing them. So, to say that everyone grieves is not entirely accurate. For those individuals who do experience grief after a loss, there are some healing benefits to grieving.
Why Is Grieving Important for Everyone?
There’s no correct way to grieve after a significant loss, but allowing yourself the experience of grieving is vital to healing after loss. Since some people seem to get away without going through the motions of grief, you might ask why is grieving important? The following are some ways that grieving is essential to the overall healing process.
1. Honors the memory of the deceased
One of the most widely recognized symbols of grieving after the death of a loved one is to cry. Crying not only lets others know that you’re suffering but that you also recognize and validate your feelings of loss. It adds meaning to the significance of your loss and tells others that experiencing grief means you’re suffering.
However, the amount of suffering you go through isn’t an indicator of how much you loved the person who died. Instead, it’s a gauge for how well you cope with your pain and sorrow. Some people feel afraid that if they don’t grieve enough, they don’t love enough.
2. Helps you heal
Acknowledging your grief is part of the normal grieving process and helps you find meaning in your loss. Although you know and understand that your feelings won't last forever, it doesn't always feel that way. Allowing yourself to grieve not only helps you feel better, but it helps you get through those times when you feel hopeless. You'll have good and bad days as you work toward healing. Remind yourself that you won't ever know which day is which until you get through it.
3. Discover hidden pain
Defining your grief is sometimes challenging as your past experiences shape who you are and how you experience loss. Allowing yourself to grieve helps you make sense of specific grief reactions that may be confusing you. As you progress through the stages of grief, you’ll find that remaining open to these experiences helps you find a deeper meaning to your pain and suffering, which ultimately helps you in your journey of self-discovery and meaning-making after undergoing loss.
4. Gain closure
Openly grieving is a healthy way to cope with your sorrow and is a powerful tool to find closure after a significant loss. The death of a loved one almost always represents a painful experience, and finding closure aims to find an answer to the confusion and ambiguity of your loss. When we seek closure, it’s because we’re seeking answers and trying to make sense of our loss to resolve our pain and suffering. The process of grieving helps to resolve many of these uncertainties in how we cope with loss.
5. Move forward from loss
Accepting your loss is the beginning of your healing journey. After you’ve had time to grieve and process your loss, you come to a point where you acknowledge that things have changed. You’ll start to think, “This has happened, and now I have to figure out how to go on from here.”
Moving forward from your loss doesn’t mean that you’ve gotten over your pain. You can expect your grief to ebb and flow for many months until it becomes a part of your life story. You’ll eventually get to a point where grief’s no longer at the forefront of your being but a carefully tucked away experience that you revisit from time to time.
Why Is It Important to Talk About Grief?
When you put your grief experiences into words, your expressions give life and meaning to your suffering. Being overwhelmed with a loss often makes it difficult to put into words how you feel. Grief may overcome you and make you feel ill-prepared to deal with all of the subsequent feelings and emotions.
Grief is a constant battle between your thoughts, feelings, and actions that you’ll need to find a way to consolidate to make sense of it all. Talking about your experiences is a way to help you process what you’re going through as a result of a significant loss. Here are some reasons why it’s crucial to the overall grieving process to talk about your feelings.
6. Process feelings and emotions
One of the most frustrating things about the grieving process is not always understanding why you feel the way you do. Sharing your thoughts and talking with others about your grief helps you know that you're not alone. Some people find that the intensity of their pain lessens when they open up to others. However, those closest to you often don't know what to say or how to react to your grief.
Even when that person doesn't fully understand your feelings, it helps to know that someone's willing to listen. Reassure your loved ones that what you need is someone who'll listen and that you don't necessarily need them to have the answers.
7. Alleviate anger or resentment
Some people deny they are angry after suffering a significant loss. Anger doesn’t always mean yelling or getting into an argument with others. After experiencing loss, feeling angry is a common shared reaction. There are many reasons why people experience anger after a loss.
Perhaps you’re mad at the world for taking your loved one before their time. Maybe you’re angry at God or your higher power for the unfairness of it all. When you talk about these feelings and emotions, it helps you release the anger and resentment that may be boiling up inside you.
8. Make sense of shameful feelings
Some survivors feel a sense of relief after the death of a loved one suffering from a long-term illness or disability, which often leaves them confused. They may struggle with shame and guilt for feeling this way and don't know how to process these reactions. However, not all survivors think like this. Some individuals accept that their loved ones are no longer suffering and find solace in their passing.
Talking about these feelings helps you understand your grief reactions and make sense of why you're feeling the way you are. Shame is a natural and normal reaction to grief and often affects those who've been in a caregiving position to their loved ones.
9. Get emotional support
Chances are you’re dealing with grief reactions that are new to you or that may confuse you. Every time you suffer through loss, you can expect the grieving process to differ from your previous experience. Individuals who’ve suffered from numerous losses are often surprised with their grief reactions.
Many hope that the next occurrence will be easier to deal with because of their past experiences. There’s rarely any getting used to grieving. Asking for and getting the needed emotional support every time you experience a loss is essential to a healthy healing process.
10. Release your grief
While you may struggle to verbalize your feelings when overwhelmed with grief, letting go of someone or something important to you isn't always easy. The grief process almost always begins at the moment of loss. At times when you feel that you're drowning in your grief, it may seem impossible that the pain will ever end.
Connecting with others to talk about what you're going through is a healthy way of coping with your grief. Having the added support of your loved ones reminds you that you don't have to walk alone in your sorrow. However, ultimately it's up to you to decide when you're ready to begin the healing process.
The Importance of Processing Your Grief
Getting your feelings and emotions out there in the open is essential to the overall healing process. While not everyone in your support circle will feel comfortable talking to you about what you’re going through, there’s always someone out there ready to help you cope when things get rough. Your overall well-being relies upon you finding healthy ways of processing your grief, even if it means making others feel a bit uncomfortable with your situation following a significant loss.