Grief and Loss: When is the pain over?
Grief and loss makes people uncomfortable. We don’t know what to say, we don’t know how to make it better and it is so hard to just watch the people we love hurt. We desperately want to make the pain to go way, to fix it, to provide comfort and to distract those we care about from their pain.
If you’ve ever felt the loss of someone close it’s almost impossible to describe the pain. There are no words to describe just how deep and intense the feeling is and how lost it leaves you. It is the one unsolvable problem, there is no answer, and there is no ‘fix’. It’s a horrible, gut-wrenching, intense, unimaginable, and indescribable pain.
Your needs constantly change, one moment you feel just fine, the next moment you feel anything but okay. There are times when the pain is overwhelming and you just need the people around you to provide distraction, but there are other times when you need to feel the loss and be allowed to get lost in its waves. The hardest part is you can’t predict how you are going to feel from one moment to the next.
As a psychologist, people often ask me what they can do to help their grieving friend. The answer is always so simple, yet so impossibly hard to for people to do. Just be there, you can’t fix it and you don’t need too. Just let them grieve and be accepting of them no matter what they need in the moment. Accept also that their needs could change in an instant and be willing to ride that roller coaster.
Everyone’s loss is different; it is processed, responded to, shown and felt differently. Even if you’ve lost someone in a similar way or of a similar relationship, no one can fully understand.
If you have just experienced a loss, there is something I want you to know. It won’t always be the completely crushing pain that it is today. That said, you won’t entirely ‘get over it’ or ‘move on’. There will be times when grief will have you in its waves again, and moments when it will recede.
Grief management has come a long way, but there’s still no one method to apply to every individual. This strikes at the heart of the paradox of grief; it is truly a unique experience.
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