Advantages of Grieving
The first thing I believe that we are trying to get with our grief is the person who died. When we grieve, it is our best attempt to keep that person alive, at least in our perceived world. We know they no longer exist in the physical world as we know it. However, if we continue to think about them, pine for them, grieve their presence, then it keeps the thought of that person active in our perception and it feels better to us than the total void or absence of the other person.
Another possible advantage of grief is that it shows others just how much we cared for and loved the person who died. I’m not suggesting that people are being manipulative in their grief. What I am saying is that there is a side benefit to grief in that it shows others how much we cared. It also says, “See what a good ___________ I was.” Fill in the blank with husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, sister, brother, etc.
Grief is also instrumental in getting us the support we need from others during our time of bereavement. People do things for us that we would normally be expected to do ourselves. Again, please don’t think that I am suggesting that a grieving person wakes up and “decides” to grieve so someone will stop by the house with a meal. None of this is conscious but I’m merely pointing out the potential advantages of grief.
Once we become totally conscious and aware of what our grief does and doesn’t do for us, then comes the hard part. We need to make some decisions about how we want to live.
3 Options – Leave it, Change it, or Accept it.
There are always at least three options in every situation and they can be framed up in terms of—leave it, change it or accept it.
With death, you may wonder how someone is going to “leave it.” Well, some possible ways would be major denial of the loss, suicide, drugs and/or alcohol abuse, or sinking deep into mental illness, among others.
When we get caught up in changing things, we may continue in our grief as our best attempt to get the person back. That might look like constant trips to the cemetery, frequent conversations with the deceased, refusing to believe he or she is truly gone, constantly talking about the one who’s gone. There are many things we can do to attempt to change the reality of the loss.
If and when we come to accept it, we can experience some measure of peace and re-join the living. A healthy step in this process is finding a way to somehow maintain that person’s presence in our lives. Now, this is a very individual thing and you must be very careful not to judge the choices of the bereaved.
When acceptance occurs, then the grieving person can begin to assimilate back into their life and the lives of those around them, but it won’t happen overnight. We need patience and loving understanding for those coming back from grief.
…Another Option – Don’t grieve at all.
Another possible choice is the person who doesn’t appear to grieve at all. There may be many explanations for this behaviour. The person may be very private and won’t do his or her grieving where others can see. Another possibility is that the person is trying to be strong for everyone else.
If you are grieving, or you are involved in the life of someone who is grieving, please don’t judge yourself or them. Understand that all behaviour is purposeful and the person is getting something out of what they are doing. When they become conscious that there is a choice, then they can make a conscious decision about which of the three choices they want to make. Once they know the direction they want to go in, they have to flesh out the details of their plan.
This post continues on from my last one about the grief process.
If you know someone (adult or child) that is in need of counselling support because they are stuck in any of the 5 stages, please get in contact. I work with bereavement issues and their symptoms.