Why Grieving is Essential

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"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love." - Washington Irving

Grief is a normal and natural response to loss. Though we often expect to grieve the death of a family member or friend; the end of a relationship, a move to a new community, the death of a pet, an opportunity or life goal suddenly being closed to us or someone we love contracting a potentially life-threatening illness, are also very significant losses that can trigger grief.

Letting go of any relationship can be complicated. That’s because the end of a relationship is like experiencing a death, of sorts.  Even if you are the one that initiated the breakup and believe that the breakup is the best thing for all involved, letting go of a relationship follows the same process as mourning a death. 

1. The first stage is usually denial. In this phase our heart rather than our head rules our belief system as we try to adjust to the idea of life without the person we’re losing. Even though we know the relationship is over, we really don’t believe it or don't want to.  Against the better judgment of everyone around us, we can’t help but entertain fantasies of things somehow working out. We see hidden glimmers of hope buried in clear indications that it’s over.  Yes, this is the phase where we are most susceptible to late night texting.

2. Then comes anger. This makes me lol because at one point you shared a love so special where you saw no faults and now you can't stop trying to find every excuse under the sun to hate the other person/situation all in the name of trying to cope.

Even if there was nothing much wrong. Anger can manifest in so many different ways – anger at your ex (“How could they do this to me? Why can’t they stop being selfish?”), anger at God or the universe (“Why can’t anything ever work out for me? Why am I cursed?”), anger at people or situations associated with the break-up (anger at the other woman/man; anger that your partner lost their job, because that is when they “changed”), and anger at other people who don’t agree or stand with your anger (“Can you believe George and Jane still want to be friends with them after what they did to me?”). This is the phase where we think it’s a great idea to tell anyone and everyone what a psycho-crazy vixen our ex was. This is also when we think it’s crucial to send our ex (don't ever do this) hateful emails because we don’t want them thinking they got away with anything.

3. Onto bargaining. Bargaining often goes hand in hand with denial. Bargaining can be looking for any possible way to make the relationship work, we are basically kidding ourselves, through negotiation, threats, and/or magic – for example, telling your ex that you will change, or move or go to therapy, or telling them they are hurting the children, the family, and the dog by leaving. And, of course, this phase is not only limited to bargaining with your ex.  Many people bargain with "The Powers That Be", promising to be a better person if only the ex will come back. During this stage,  some people may take a new interest in astrology, tarot cards or any type of voodoo that will forecast a reunion.  This is also when we attempt to enlist all friends and family to “talk some sense” into the ex. 

4. Depression. Depression surfaces in many different forms. Feeling tired all the time, not wanting to do anything, staying in bed, feeling disconnected from people even when you’re with people. Being on the verge of tears most of the time or feeling totally apathetic and not feeling anything at all, numb. Sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping. A loss of appetite or overeating, increase in drug or alcohol use and (the big one)...hopelessness.  Hopelessness is the most pervasive and debilitating. It is the thing that leads us to believe that nothing will ever be or feel different than it is right now. Hopelessness makes it feel like you will never move on and that nothing will ever work out for you in the future. This is where we need to come in to look after ourselves. and...

5. Accept. Finally, this is the phase in which we are able to make peace with the loss and peace with ourselves. It doesn’t always come on suddenly; it often happens gradually, little bit by little bit,  interspersed with some of the other phases. Acceptance doesn’t always involve harmony and flowers – there is almost certain to be lingering sadness.  Acceptance entails making peace with the loss, letting go of the relationship and slowly moving forward with your life. Sometimes it feels like this phase will never come, which usually means you’re still struggling in an earlier phase and in these phases it is important to accept what you are feeling/going through.

It is a very normal process of something that takes time and has no time limit. It is not about fighting it, rushing it, pretending you are ok or trying to prove you are strong enough. It is living totally authentically to yourself to allow room to heal. It is a space to learn so much about yourself, it is space to grow. It is a time where you can nourish all the parts of you that need nourishing and learn more about what fuels your energy or what depletes it, what really lights you up and what doesn't. It is being able to attract what you want and let go of the things you don't. It is the start to a beautiful new beginning.