How do you define grief moving forward?
In response to one of my emails, someone posted this question on Facebook…
you asked that we comment on your email regarding: “Anger, regret and guilt are among the stickiest issues when it comes to grief. Resolving them is key to your grief moving forward.” My difficulty with this statement is your phrase “moving forward” What does that mean? How do you define moving forward? What does “stuck” mean?
This is one of those great big questions that probably can’t be answered in a single blog post but I’ll give it a shot…
Grief is a dynamic process not a static state…at least that’s how it’s designed. Sometimes the process stalls or gets well and truly stuck. It feels like there is no way out, that you’re always going to feel this badly. In professional terms this is called complicated grief though most people who are grieving relate better to the experience of being stuck.
It can be tricky to determine whether someone is really stuck or just taking a long time. This is something the mental health professions continue to struggle with and, as a whole, we’re really not doing a very job it.
Grief does take time and often a very long time. The criteria I write about in the book and believe is the most reliable indicator of whether someone is grieving normally or not, is whether the grief is moving. When it’s moving (even if it keeps backtracking and going around in circles), it will bring the person who is grieving to some sort of resolution.
And what do I mean by THAT!?!
It’s one of the great challenges of grief because it is so paradoxical. We do “get over” (before anyone jumps all over me for that, I agree it’s a terrible term) our grief AND at the very same time we never “get over” it.
Here are some of the reasons why…
When we get over it, we are able to reinvest in life again, love again and find renewed meaning in live. We find joy in the memories even when some may be bittersweet.
We don’t get over it because we will always miss them, we have been profoundly changed by their loss, and we will experience moments of sadness for the remainder of our lives (usually short lived).
Both are true so when I talk about moving forward this is where the movement takes you.
Now anger, regret and guilt often send people into an endless loop of shame and blame which can very easily stall the natural movement of grief. Finding ways of making peace with it can go a long way towards healing (my preferred terms but it has its detractors as well).
Does this make sense?
Photo Credit: sardinelly