What is grief?
It is the process by which we release something from our life. This is a healing process. We usually associate grief with the death of a loved person, but grief occurs to a lesser degree whenever there is an ending to any experience; for example, there might be a breakup of a relationship, a project which failed or which disappointed us, the retirement or firing from a job, the loss of a hope for a particular thing, the ending of a pleasant experience (e.g., a party or a picnic), or even the ending of an unpleasant experience (if we have become attached to an aspect of the experience).
The constructive aspects of grief.
- Grief allows us to release something which is no longer in our life. Thus, we can move on to the next stage, with its new opportunities.
- Grief forces us to confront the fact that we will die someday. This awareness can add depth and meaning to our everyday existence, and it can compel us to evaluate our values so we are focused on significant activities in our short lifetime.
The destructive aspects of grief.
- Grief is painful. The pain occurs because we have lost something which was the recipient of our love. "Love" is our subjective experience of the flow of spiritual substance from one person to another person (i.e., one soul to another soul). When the recipient disappears, the flow has nowhere to go; therefore, we must shut off that flow (temporarily, until we find another recipient). The shutting-off of this precious flow causes the intense pain of grief (and of the related phenomenon of "heartbreak" in a relationship).
- We might fail to complete the grief process. Thus, we have unresolved emotions(e.g., the emotional energy of anger) which will linger within us, influencing us in our future life; for example, the unresolved anger will cast that anger into our general experience of life.
This is an excerpt, with minor changes, from James Harvey Stout's book, The Human Handbook. Used with permission.