Why we need to learn to grieve
“Grief?” I hear you cry, “But you’re a Life Coach. Aren’t you supposed to be helping me achieve my goals in life, how’s grief going to help? How depressing”.
Grief is not just about losing a loved one.
To me, grief, fear, and change are all part of the same challenge. Grief is not just about losing a loved one, it’s something that arises whenever we have to learn to let go of what was, and move towards a “new normal”.
The majority of my clients start working with me once they are on their way out of a grieving process. “Who me?” I hear you say, “I wasn’t grieving, I just wanted to get on with my life after..
- A relationship breakdown
- A life-limiting health diagnosis
- I realised I will never be able to have children
- I lost my job/career, closed my business
- I have a family, but feel I’ve lost myself in the process.
Having to let go of the future you thought was yours and find your way in a new future, a new “normal”.
In their book “On Grief and Grieving”, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler explore the Five Stages of Grief.
When I think back to the break-up of my first marriage I can see each of these clearly.
- Denial – “I can’t believe this has happened. I can’t believe I’m going to be a single mum. This can’t be happening”.
- Anger – “How dare he leave us like this? What sort of person does that? This is so unfair on me and our son. I’ll show him”.
- Bargaining – “I’ll do anything to get him back, I promise to be a better wife, just please give this another chance”.
- Depression – “I’m all alone, this pain will never end”.
- Acceptance – “This is it now, this is my life now, I’m going to have to find a way to make this work”.
Have a think about your loss, whatever it was, and see if you can identify with any of the stages. They don’t necessarily flow one after another, we can go round and around in grief. You might think your loss isn’t as bad as I’ve described here, but give it a go just the same, these stages may come in a “lighter” form, but I wonder if you can see them just the same?
So why am I telling you this? Why have I linked grief, fear, and change together and what’s it got to do with life coaching?
Grief is something we can encounter during change.
Giving up the future which featured your loved one, your plans for adventure, your dream to be a mother/father, your individuality and adjusting to one where that’s no longer an option. Changing from the known to the unknown.
We fear grief because we worry once it begins it will never end, that we will keep sinking and never escape the blackness. We fear fear because we worry if we acknowledge it, we will be overwhelmed, it will never end, it will just keep growing. Grief-fear-change are all to do with the unknown, we can’t see what’s possible because we haven’t got there yet.
And yet we make it through. Painful, scary and lonely though it may be, nature only lets in as much as we can handle at the time. We feel the weight of it crushing us, but not completely. When we’ve gathered the strength to lift that weight, we may find another one waiting for us, and so it goes until we’ve become so strong the weight no longer affects us. It may never leave, but we can bear it now. We are stronger.
Grief is linked to life, not death.
Never underestimate what you are going through when life throws you a curveball. Allow yourself time to grieve in your own way, knowing it will make you stronger. Honour your grief at whatever it is you’ve lost, and let nobody tell you to “cheer up, you’ll be fine on your own / it might not be as bad as you think / it was only a job, lucky you! / get a cat”. Your grief is as individual as you are. Your grief can help you understand other people’s grief. Your grief will never break you, it will always come to an end, and you will be a different, stronger person as a result of it.
PS If you think someone you know might be grieving, or may find this helpful, show them you care by sharing it.