Courtesy of porcelaindoll13

Traditionally, Grief and Loss is connected to Death. Specifically, Grief refers to an individual’s response and reaction to a loss (Doka, 1989). Grief is energy – an emotional response to loss. Loss, on the other hand, has a broader definition and doesn’t only refer to Death. It refers to deprivation or no longer having something that you formerly owned or had. 

You have developmental losses (Doka & Martin, 2010) referring to your ongoing development and the path to maturity. For example, the loss of childhood and beginning of puberty, you lose the innocence of childhood. Other examples include getting married (losing your independence, gaining intimacy and connection), childbirth (loss of freedom, gaining parenthood), and retirement (loss of identity and income, gaining freedom).

Situational losses can have a feature of anxiety. For example, a physical loss is when you lose something you can handle physically. Death is a physical loss or the loss of an object.

Relational loss is about the end of an attached relationship. Death can cause the loss of a relationship, as does divorce, loss of a job, or shifting homes.

Symbolic loss refers to the loss of an emotional or spiritual connection. This could include a loss of faith and dreams.

Different Ways of Grieving 

There are two major ways that people grieve: Intuitive and Instrumental.

Intuitive Grief is a style of grieving that is more affective or emotional. It is more focused on the past (reminiscing about the deceased) and the present (feeling sadness). It is a social and passive way to grieve whereby you express your grief to others.

Instrumental Grief, on the other hand, is more action-oriented. It’s about grieving ‘alone’ and is thought-oriented without the expression of emotions. It is focused on the future (how can I get things arranged?) or a focus on practical tasks.

There is no right way to grieve, and it’s normally considered to be determined by your personality style, previous losses, attachment to the deceased, and upbringing. When grief does become a problem, it will impact on your day to day function. This is the time to seek Specialist assistance (grief counselling).

Growing Around Grief

Lois Tonkin spoke about a model known as Growing Around Grief. It basically states that there is no expectation that the grief should disappear. The model acknowledges the days of darkness, and also focuses on the richness and depth the grief has given to your life. Grief counsellors work with grievers to ‘grow a new life’. There is no disloyalty to the loved one, as people feel guilty when they move on with their lives, and believing this, tends to hold people back as they refuse to move forward. The expectation from this model is accepting that the grief never completely disappears, but over time, it will become a smaller and manageable part of your life. Even if the grief is still present, a new life moves around the grief, and you can grow around the grief.

In conclusion, grief can have many complex layers with an array of emotions and distressing thoughts. However, with time, acceptance, social support, and grieving in the way most comfortable for you, you can ultimately grow around grief and live a new life.  As previously mentioned, if the grief consumes your life, it is then time to seek specialist grief counselling.

How have you managed your grief? Are you an intuitive griever or an instrumental griever?