Grief and Loss in life
Updated: Jun 17
Grief and loss - catch words that seem to suggest what we feel and the process that ensues following a death. But I know we experience grief and loss constantly in life.
Is Grief and Loss only about death?
I’m a big fan of speaking openly about our emotions and the things that cause us the greatest pain. I’m an advocate of honest communication and creating space for dialogue about those ‘icky’ subjects. Let’s face it, we’re all in this crazy ride together, so we might as well share.
So, where do we go now to discuss all that tough stuff - things like abortion, organ donation, the impending death of a child, a loved one who suicides, euthanasia, physical abuse, eating disorders, self harming, addictions, terminal illness, sexual inadequacy - the list goes on. There are a lot of challenging life events and experiences that don’t occur often and the information surrounding them seems tricky or even shameful to seek out and navigate through.
That which makes us human, our emotions, our vulnerabilities, our physical and mental frailties, we all share. All of us having on this human journey are going to experience similar things.
We are all going to experience the full spectrum of emotions. We are all going to experience the loss and the grief that inevitably results. This doesn’t have to be reserved only for the death of a loved one. In fact, you think we'd be quite adept at dealing with grief and loss as we face it numerous times throughout our lives. There are many experiences and situations that constitute loss, that we will feel deeply and emotionally and that we get zero support with overcoming. It's quite miraculous that we come out the other side somewhat unscathed.
In this lifetime, we potentially face the loss of a significant relationship, the loss of a beloved pet, the loss of a career, a job opportunity, the loss of our health, the loss of our youth, the loss of our fertility, the loss of never achieving something we always dreamed we’d experience – the list is endless. These losses woven in to the fabric of our life are significant and painful. We experience a remarkably similar grief and loss process to that of losing a loved one to death.
The thing that amazes me is that we are pretty unskilled to deal with it and largely unsupported in terms of what society offers to assist us with these painful transitions.
I am constantly amazed at the forward momentum of society in terms of technology, medical advances, scientific discoveries and interventions. Sometimes I am even overwhelmed at the prospect of keeping up! However, in many areas of our collective lives I think certain things are still considered taboo and are therefore controlled by industries or organisations that appear to protect the information and process. Perhaps its even profitable for them to keep us uninformed - areas like pre and post death care; accessibility of practical information on end of life options; necessity of pharmaceuticals, support for mental health conditions; arranging funerals; living with chronic, debilitating or invisible illness; challenges of addictions; challenges surrounding fertility and parenthood.
Collectively, we are all going to face such challenges or be close to someone who is. This information and these support structures should be transparent, accessible and openly shared and discussed.
The tide is turning however and people are seeking to know and understand this world we live in, in all of its gritty glory. My desire is for people to support one another at a community level – rather than relying on the experts who seem to profit from it. We all deserve love, support and guidance when we grieve in the midst of our lives.