Saturday, June 27, 2009

What Causes Grief?

Grief is increasingly being defined more broadly. Previously, when someone mentioned that they were grieving, most people assumed it was due to the death of a loved one. Even though it is still the most popular reason why people grieve, other things can lead to grieving.

Wikipedia defines grief as the following: Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss. It includes the emotion numbness, disbelief, separation, anxiety, despair, sadness, and loneliness that accompany the loss of someone or something loved........Losses can range from loss of employment, pets, status, a sense of safety, order, or possessions, to the loss of loved ones. Therefore, we can even experience grief when we get divorced, have to move, lose our home from fire, disaster or financial reasons, etc.

Many things can cause us to experience grief. Chances are that you have experienced a form of grief over your life time. Some grief experiences are more difficult than others. Some grief experiences may even be "fixed" when the situation changes. For example, a person may quit grieving the loss of their former job/income when they find a new job. Conversely, some grief experiences will not be "fixed" so easily. For example, when a loved one dies the grief will probably take more time to process and to integrate the loss into our lives.

The death of a child, spouse, friend, parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle, other family member or pet can be devastating. Sometimes a death is "expected" due to a terminal diagnosis. Other times the death is sudden and unexpected. Either way, the final outcome is death and usually brings about a degree of grief.

Unfortunately, our culture shies away from discussing and educating people about grief and the natural responses to grief. Thankfully, some of this is slowly shifting. Many things are playing a role in this trend. I think the shift is coming about largely because of the presences of Hospice organizations and how we are beginning to broadly define grief. I am in hopes that this trend will continue and our culture will become more tolerant and understanding of a grieving person.

Wishing you Peace, Comfort and Hope.

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