When you open yourself up to love, you open yourself up to loss.  When you suffer a loss, you will experience the painful emotion we call grief.  It’s a natural response to loss, yet to the person going through this emotion, the experience feels overwhelming.  I would like to help you understand that going through it means it is a process, not an event and, depending on the personal connection you have to person who has died, it is very individual. And yet, the grieving process itself is universal: we feel sad when we experience loss.

Because we will all suffer loss as part our life’s journey, we will all need time and spiritual healing to recover.  But our world wants us to hurry up and get on with things.  This demand – whether from society or someone in our life – doesn’t work with the grieving process because loss, as love, is embedded deep in our souls and it cannot be rushed.

When someone you loved has died, your life feels different because it is different.  In your grief process ,you will long and ache for the person.  If you have lost a beloved child, your grief will go on and on, and you will need to find a new purpose in your life to survive.  That is what helps me, trying to help you; that is my new purpose.

Sometimes we mistakenly believe that loss and grief exist only when someone we love dies but loss and grief are felt in other life circumstances, too.  Presently, I’m experiencing a sense of loss over our much loved pastor’s transfer, a deep loss for me and collectively for our parish community.

Because grief surfaces with situations other than death, look over some additional examples of loss which you may have experienced.  They also deserve recognition for their importance in your spiritual healing and well-being.

Loss of your marriage and the family life you wanted for youself and your children.

Loss of a home you loved and that shared circle of close friends.

Loss of trust in your own judgment after a terrible betrayal.

Loss of your job.

Loss of financial security.

Loss of your health.

Loss that comes with a disability.

Loss of your youth.

Loss of never marrying.

Loss of the courage to live your own life.

Loss suffered with infertility issues.

Loss of a friend or family member through addiction or mental illness.

Loss that you will never have the mom or dad or siblings that you needed.

Loss of your parent stolen by dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Loss of the kids when they leave for pre-school, college, marriage, or independent living.

Loss of your family pet.

Loss when you realize your child will never have a story-book life.

Loss of not having grandchildren.

Loss of not seeing your grandchildren because you are denied visitation.

Loss of your dreams.

Loss of your faith – once strong and unshakeable – now dim or nonexistent.

As you can see, these are examples of other losses people have shared with me.  Maybe they even touch on your loss.

When we are grieving a loss, we often feel we want to be alone and we pull away from others.  This isolates us more.  This pulling away causes the loneliness of loss to increase.  This loneliness can move our grief into a depression and then – worse – into despair, a dark hole that is much harder to climb out of and much more difficult to recover from than grief.

Don’t go it alone.  Remember what Winnie the Pooh once remarked, “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you.  You have to go to them sometimes.”

Here are some suggestions to get you out of your corner of the forest:

Share your pain with compassionate family members and friends.

Talk with a rabbi, priest, minister or person of faith.

Find a counselor who understands loss personally and clinically.

Nourish you body, rest frequently, exercise moderately.

Commit to volunteer somewhere.

Receive hugs from comforting supporters.

Remember, it takes great courage and work to survive your shattering losses and your grief is testimony to the love you were able to give.  And remember, my friends, you are remarkable each morning when you get out of bed, put your feet on the floor, and ask for the grace to make this day and Every Day Matter.

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Mary Jane Hurley Brant

Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S.,CGP, is a practicing psychotherapist for 37 years who specializes in grief. She is author of the book, When Every Day Matters: A Mother’s Memoir of Love, Loss and Life. In this first person narrative M.J. addresses the suicide of her father when she was 13 and the life and death of her daughter, Katie, of a brain tumor. She is the founder of Mothers Finding Meaning Again. MJ can be reached through her website www.MaryJaneHurleyBrant.com

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