Have you ever wondered if grieving serves a purpose? It is hard to believe that grieving serves a purpose, but it does. Grieving helps us with the change we are experiencing and it helps with healing. Dealing with grief can be painful and it is natural to want to ignore grief but it needs to be addressed. When you first learn about the loss, it can be natural to deny the death. This mechanism of denial may be a way to escape until you find the support you need.
A change occurs when you experience a significant loss. It can become a defining point as life is split into two parts, before the loss, and after the loss. After the loss, everything from relationships to your routine can change. Sometimes those who were your friends shy away from you as you once were “couple friends”, now your side of the couple is missing. It may be that they just are not sure what to say or how to act. Just know that is normal. It is likely that you are going to develop new relationships and find others who have common interests. It may be that your routine has suddenly changed. A close friend of mine who had been taking her husband to his doctor’s visits and to dialysis found herself lost when he died as her caregiving responsibilities were no longer needed.
What you previously did with your significant other may be too difficult to do alone. It could be that you lack a skill set that is required, it may be something that required two people or be an event that you attended together. A friend recently shared with me that she had a hard time going to church as that is where she and her husband would sit together holding hands. It may be that you need to change what you did before developing a new routine or find new interests. If doing something you did before the death creates painful memories then make a change. It is okay, to not continue what you were previously doing with your loved one.
Other changes might include moving to a new location or employment. You may be forced into a change of employment or taking on an additional job if the person who died was the primary wage earner. This can be stressful on top of experiencing grief from your loss. Experts recommend taking your time with making major decisions like this, especially during the first year following the death of a loved one. If you don’t have to sell your home, move or sell other property to survive, you should wait. You should carefully evaluate your situation before making any major changes as you don’t want to add to your stressful situation.
Another purpose of grief is healing. There are a number of things that you can do toward the path of healing. The first is to acknowledge the pain. The pain should not be ignored or covered up. It is okay to cry and express your feelings, give yourself permission. For each person healing is different so don’t compare your experience with someone else. Some of us find healing when sharing our story with others, others find healing when journaling or writing letters. Volunteering might be a form of healing for you, especially if it is with an organization that relates to the death of your loved one. Finding a way to memorialize your loved one is also an active form of healing. As you move toward healing, know that there will always be some pain it just may not be as often or as intense as in the beginning.
Outcomes of Grief
Change and healing will take place when you experience a significant loss. You must find ways to actively live with the changes and find a new pathway for your life. Grieving will help you come to terms with your loss and help you determine how you will move forward. You should honor your reactions even when grieving and be patient with yourself. We know that grief will bring a range of emotions from sadness to anger. It will also sometimes make you smile when you remember a happy memory of your loved one. One of the outcomes of grief is that it teaches us gratitude. We become thankful for what we once had recognizing that life is precious.