Grief & Loss – What Is Grief?


Have you ever lost someone close to you, to death? We all will at some point in our lives. On 1st March, my brother-in-law lost his battle to pancreatic cancer. It was a very emotional time for everyone close to him and brought grief on the family.

Since his death, I have been grieving his loss and it has been harder than I ever imagined it would be. I have not been able to concentrate and I have been physically unwell. Some people say I am sensitive but everyone grieves differently. This is one reason I have not had time to update you all as often as I would have liked with newsletters and blog posts. So, to get back into my normal routines, I thought I would share my reflections and give some information to anyone that might be going through this process.

The Grief Process

We go through a grief process that was best described by Elizabeth Kublar-Ross in her seminal work ‘On Death and Dying’. In it she talks about the five stages that people go through—denial and isolation; anger; bargaining; depression and finally acceptance. The dying person, as well as those who love them, goes through these stages although rarely at the same time and these stages are not predictable.

However, with grief, sometimes you will become aware of something not feeling right. You may think, “I should be over this by now” or “I don’t like feeling this way.” When you, yourself, recognise that it is time to move beyond where you are at, then trust that feeling as well.

What is the Choice Theory?

I’d like to talk briefly about grief from a Choice Theory perspective. I need to start with the Choice Theory expression that all behaviour is purposeful since grief is really just a behaviour in Choice Theory terms. Choice Theory tells us that everything we do at any point in time is our best attempt to get something we want—some picture we have in our world that will meet one or more of our needs in some way. Grief is no exception. 

All Behaviour is Purposeful

 Once you understand that all behaviour is purposeful and that grief is a person’s best attempt to get something they want, then it becomes easier to know what to do about it. What could we possibly be trying to get by grieving? Most people would say that there isn’t a choice. When someone we love dies, we have to grieve. I say it is natural that we will miss the person’s presence in our life but it isn’t inevitable that we have to grieve, not in the way most people think of grieving.

My next post will continue this theme and explain the advantages of grieving and how different people go through the process.

If you know someone (adult or child) that is in need of counselling support because they are grieving, please get in contact. I work with bereavement issues and their symptoms.  

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