Loss and Grieving: Learning to Feel Again

"Our feelings are like the night sky, and words are like the stars in it. As there cannot be enough stars to fill the entire sky, in the same way, there cannot be enough words to express our entire feelings." — Shakeel Alam

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In so many ways, so many people spend a lot of their lives grieving things they have lost. Some people mourn the past, their lost health or financial loss, and some people forever mourn their lost love, lost dreams or a lost past. Despite your loss, you won't always be grieving. 

The worst losses and the most painful ones are through death. The death of a child, spouse, loved one, or even a pet is a terrible experience. When you lose someone you love, your life is changed forever. Loss is universal, and so is death.

Soul Wounds

Many people spend their entire lives grieving for people who have died. Grief (especially an extended period of grieving) is a sure sign that the loss involves soul damage.

When the experience of grief becomes a way of life, the impact is tragic. Forward motion, evolution, and momentum stop. The life force energy becomes an ebb with no flow.

Many people that are grieving get "stuck" in that place where the soul is numb and incapable of experiencing joy.

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Often, our well-meaning friends and family don't know what to do. The grieving person is told to simply "get over it" or move on.

It is impossible to just instantly stop grieving. Everyone is different, and everyone grieves in their own way. The important thing is that grief cannot be allowed to become the only emotion that one has. It cannot last at the intensity that it is first experienced.  

When faced with the "numbness" and the change in the survivor, many people distance themselves. Friends and family sense that extended grieving is not healthy, but are frustrated in their attempts to help the person who continues to grieve.

Symptoms of Profound Grief

Normal grief lasts for several months. Then at some point, it gradually begins fading. The intensity shifts. The numbness and pain begin to abate.

This is not callous. Every human being deserves healing.

What the Mayo Clinic terms “complicated grief” or profound grief is a heightened and painful state of being. The mourning does not fade. In fact, it can get worse. It most certainly keeps a person from healing.

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13 signs and symptoms of complicated grief may include:

  • Intense pain and sorrow rather than appreciation of the passed loved one
  • Total focus on the death
  • Extreme attachment to loved one's things or reminders of the loved one
  • Excessive avoidance of all reminders or a purging of all their things
  • Intense and persistent longing or pining for the deceased
  • Denial of the death
  • Prolonged state of numbness and detachment
  • Anger and bitterness about loss
  • The belief that there is no longer any reason to live, and no purpose
  • Extended, self-enforced isolation or withdrawal from normal activities
  • Suspicion and distrust of other people
  • Problems enjoying life, smiling or laughing
  • Inability to remember positive experiences you had with your loved one

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Healing is Possible

If you constantly feel a deep need for your loved one, this is a good indicator you need help. When it’s difficult to function in daily life or when you are isolated from the people who care about you, it makes the situation worse.

You are not alone. Don’t give up.

Get help. Call a friend. Reach out to family. Join a local grief therapy group.

Don’t be afraid to call your doctor if your grief seems extended.

It is always recommended that someone experiencing a soul wounding loss get help. Whether you have PTSD or you are grieving the loss of a loved one, get professional or medical help. Find a counselor or go to a trusted friend or family member.

If you are feeling suicidal, call a suicide hotline number. In the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) where you can reach trained and helpful counselors.

Learning to Express Feelings

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The feelings have to come out and be accepted. You may need help to walk through these feelings. But there will come a time when you must move on with life. The hard part is that you are going to have to live without the physical presence of the person that you lost.

The interesting thing to me is that when one begins to feel again and recover enough to start to heal the body-mind-spirit, life begins anew.

Expression of feelings takes on a variety of forms. Most people find it easiest to start talking again. Some people need to draw, journal, or write.

Whether the grief is from mourning the loss of a loved one or the loss of a limb, feelings need to be expressed. When someone needs to express their feelings and they deny that need, it only gets worse.

Feelings need to be expressed in a healthy way.

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It is in "opening up" and "letting go", not in "closing down" or "getting numb", that the healing begins. So suggest the person draw or journal or talk as much as they need to.

They may need to tell their story and talk about the person that is gone a lot. Listen to them. Perhaps it is the sound of a soul coming back to life.

If you have suffered the loss of someone dear to you, you must grieve. But the pain is not supposed to be a constant companion. Just don’t give up.

There is incredible growth, both spiritual and emotional, in this process. And although you cannot see or feel it now, you can live past this. If a wounded soul heals properly, it is stronger than it ever was before.

Life is always challenging. Grief is a major challenge. Give yourself time to heal.

We all need to be experiencing at least as much joy as pain. You will move from loss to light. And you will feel joy again.

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