The Grieving Process: Is there any such thing?

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In this guest blog I am sharing the wisdom of Grief Recovery Specialist, Russell Friedman, from The Grief Recovery Institute. I hope you find this blog helpful.

You’ve probably heard someone say, “I’m in the grieving process,” or talk about a friend who has just experienced a loss and is “in the grieving process.” We’d guess that you probably accepted that statement and didn’t ask for something more specific to help you understand exactly what they were going through.

It’s not uncommon to hear people refer to the “grieving process” or “grief process” as if it had a universal meaning. Yet when someone uses that phrase and we ask them what they mean, the answers vary so widely that there never seems to be a basic explanation that accurately describes what it is.

There are several reasons we struggle with the use of the phrase grieving process. One reason is that in talking with thousands of grievers over the years about the process of grief, we’ve discovered that every griever is unique, as is their individual reaction to the loss events that affect their lives. And within that, the range of emotions and behaviors provoked by their grief is almost infinite.

The other major reason that we balk at the phrase grieving process, is the use of the word process, when there doesn’t seem to be an actual process at work.

Here is the dictionary definition of the word process: a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead toward a particular result “the process of growth”; a continuing natural or biological activity or function “such as life processes as breathing”, a series of action or operation conducing to an end; especially: a continuous operation or treatment especially in manufacture.

As you can see, the definition of process is very clear in indication that whatever happens within a process, either natural or manmade, leads to a “particular result” or “conducing to an end.”

If grief truly is a process, then each of us would go through it the same way and wind up in a pre-determined place. We doubt we have to tell you that just isn’t the case. In fact, one of the famous expressions about grief is, “Everyone grieves in their own way and pace.” That certainly doesn’t conform to the dictionary definition of a process.

If there is no griever process – what is happening when someone grieves?

It’s more than fair of you to ask us, “If grief is not a process, what exactly is it?” There are many ways to describe grief, both intellectually and emotionally, all of which are essentially true, yet none of which will apply to all grieving people.

Probably the most basic and accurate explanation of what grief is for most people, is simply: “Grief is the conflicting emotions caused by an end or a change in a familiar pattern of behavior.” When you read that you may begin to realize that grief is a reaction to an event and not a process toward a goal or objective.

That definition also allows the uniqueness and pace that grief is for each of us, and doesn’t compel us to be at any pre-determined position or result.

While we don’t believe grief is a process, we do believe there is a series of actions that grieving people can take to help themselves deal with the unresolved grief that accrues in all relationships. We call those actions the Grief Recovery Method, which is process-like in guiding people to the goal of discovering and completing what was left emotionally unfinished for them.

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Canadian Advanced Grief Recovery Method Specialist, 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. A Tammy client testimonial, “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.”

To learn more about Intuitive Understanding please visit or contact Tammy by email at