The drive to survive deeply motivates us to avoid pain whatever the cost. In our society of instant gratification, fast food eaten in the car on the way to the next activity, and “conversations” boiled down into 15-second Snapchats, it’s hard to take the necessary time to grieve properly. It is, however, a healthier choice to lean in and experience grief rather than avoid it.
Grief can be defined as any kind of emotional suffering caused by a sense of loss. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a death of a person. That level of intense loss is a normal part of human life, not a disorder. It is hard work because it involves intentionally feeling negative emotions: sadness, anger, resentment, despair, even guilt. It involves recalling difficult memories and spending time in them after they have passed.
You think you won’t survive the pain, but you can. No one enjoys feeling painful feelings, let alone choosing to go there. The “easier” thing to do is avoid it. That is also a surefire way to keep you stuck (and inevitably have it backfire later on down the road).
The goal in healthy grieving is to process the feelings and painful memories in order to ultimately find resolve from the grief: broken things can be made new again, wounds healed, experiencing a shift from mourning to joy. That is not to say the loss is ever forgotten, but hopefully well-integrated and growth-producing in the end.
I like to consider that “emotional weight lifting.” It can feel kind of like that – when the muscle has to tear in order to rebuild, stronger after the work is complete. It is important to remember, it is a process. You are always a work in progress (as are all the other humans around you). It is normal to go through grief and it is hard, but you will come out on the other side changed.
There isn’t exactly a timeline for grieving (though everyone would prefer to have one as a guide). Depending on what is being grieved it can take a few weeks or a number of years. What is more unsettling than the unknown?
If you find yourself in the midst of wrestling with these difficult emotions and want to come to a safe place to walk through the roller coaster of grief, give us a call at Pike Creek to get set up with one of our therapists. We can walk alongside you through the journey and see you through to the other side.