If you have ever loved, then you most certainly have come face to face with the emotion that many people spend their whole lives trying to avoid: Grief.
Grief is something we can only feel if we have allowed ourselves to love so deeply, to feel such excitement, and to experience emotional intimacy with others. Grief is not something that goes away once a funeral has ended. It is not something that disappears once you start sharing your story. And it certainly is not something that is only felt for a short period of time. Grief can look like:
- A father who has lost his son to cancer
- A wife who could not be in the hospital with her terminally ill husband due to COVID-19 restrictions
- A miscarriage
- The abandonment by a parent due to addiction or untreated mental illness
- An adult whose parents passed away after living long and healthy lives
Grief comes in many forms, but that dreadful feeling of loss is a constant. While the experience of grief can be excruciatingly painful, and at times, downright unbearable, I believe that a life full of hope and meaning can be found from the pain. Some may be familiar with the 5 stages of grief by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross:
While these stages are a guideline for what we generally go through when grieving, my goal as a therapist is to help clients move through these stages in their own time in order to get to the 6th stage of grief: finding meaning. According to modern grief expert, David Kessler, the 6th stage of grief is one that needs to be brought to light. The grieving process does not end at acceptance, but continues on so that people may find meaning in their loss. I incorporate this 6th stage into much of the counseling that I do with my grieving clients. Finding meaning does not mean that people are going to suddenly be okay with their loss or will never again experience any pain; but rather, it means that throughout the treatment process, I can help my grieving clients to find ways to honor and stay connected to their loved ones. I believe whole heartedly that when a loved one has physically left this earth, the love and the connection live on indefinitely.
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