Annual grief statistics are staggering. Exploring strictly Canada and the US, there are an estimated 16 million grievers due to the death of a loved one (approximately 3.2 million deaths per year with an average of 5 grievers per death); 2.6 million grievers due to divorce (not including the number of children who also grieve); and 40 million grievers due to the death of a pet. These numbers highlight death and divorce but exclude the other 40+ reasons why someone might grieve.
In addition to the pain, isolation, and loneliness caused by loss, this article explores a few of these additional reasons someone might experience grief.
What is Grief?
According to The Grief Recovery Institute, grief is the normal and natural reaction to an emotional loss of any kind. Grief is also the conflicting feelings caused by the end of, or change in, a familiar pattern of behaviour. While many of us readily understand grief can be the result of an unhappy event which occurs, happy events also fall under the later description of grief.
Grief is almost always about things we wished had been better, different, or more. Further it is about unrealized hopes, dreams, and expectations. Finally, it is about things we wished we had said; things we said we wished had been truly heard; and things we wished we could say, just one more time, while another person listened.
Take a moment to review your own life experiences through the above parameters and consider which events may filter into an area of possible grief. Many are surprised at the results of this exercise.
Not all sad events or broken relationships will remain unfinished but the ones which do can steal your capacity for joy, kindness, courage, and the opportunity to share the brilliance of who we are with others. Unresolved grieve can cost you much, if not everything!
Events which cause grief, may include:
o Pet Loss
o Financial Loss
o Loss of a Child (any age)
|o Loss of Health
o Legal Problems
o Romantic Break-Ups
o Being Fired / Downsized
o Dissolution of a Business Partnership
Changes which can bring about feelings of grief:
o Financial Gain
|o Having a Baby
o Empty Nesting
o Career Change
o End of an Addiction
o Opening a New Business
Other situations where grief may present itself:
|o Loss of Faith
o Loss of Trust
o Loss of Self
o Loss of Safety
o Loss of Control
|o Loss of Fertility
o Loss of Comfort
o Loss of Pregnancy
o Feeling Abandoned
o Abuse (childhood or adult)
Without a clear understanding of the possible reasons someone might grieve, the causes can be easily overlooked. And, if overlooked, the resulting build up of unresolved emotions may affect other areas of your life.
In an attempt to make ourselves or others feel good, many of us do what we have been taught and we either ignore or bury our emotions. We engage in an Academy Award performance of convincing ourselves and others we are “fine” – while the feelings and discomfort accumulate within.
Small events and emotions eventually build up to something heavy, weighing us down. Picture yourself with a backpack over your shoulder. With each unresolved grief experience, a brick is added to your pack. One by one they accumulate. While we adjust to the accumulative weight of each additional brick, eventually we can be carrying a significant load.
What do Grievers Need?
It is important to understand those who are carrying unresolved grief are NOT broken. They do not need to be fixed. They do not need to be analyzed, criticized, or judged. They do however, need a way to identify their unfinished business. What they need is to be listened to with dignity and respect. To have their pain acknowledged.
The benefits of identifying and completing the emotions of grief allow you to mend your broken heart. You are able to create an energetic shift which can be felt by those you come in contact with. When you find the courage to address your unresolved grief, the ripple effects extend beyond yourself.
According to The Grief Recovery Institute, completeness is the result of having delivered those emotional communication that either we never made, or we felt were never heard, or that need to be said again. Completeness gives us the opportunity to say goodbye to any pain which may be limiting us from fond memories and to say goodbye to any unmet expectations about the future.
In conclusion, it is important to be able to identify what may be holding you from moving forward and then take the correct action steps to complete any feelings of grief. In other words – you’ll need to open up and unload your backpack!
Tammy Adams loves to problem solve, inspire and motivate others who are ready and committed to change. Tammy has spent over 30 years in the field of education and as a Certified Life and Executive Coach Tammy teaches individuals to challenge and conquer their limiting beliefs and insecurities to create the life of their choosing. As a Grief Recovery Method Specialist Tammy understands that unresolved grief can limit an individual’s capacity for happiness and is gifted at supporting individuals through the pain and isolation cause by an emotional loss, of any kind, to a place of happiness they believed no longer existed. Tammy’s clients say, “Tammy helped me unpack the baggage and put a smile on my face in the process. It’s a rare quality for someone to fully listen without judgement but yet still steer you in the right direction.”