6 Critical Aspects of Grief Everone
By Conroy Reynolds
Grief like spirituality is an often misunderstood aspect
of the human experience. Yet it is an inescapable fact
of life. Being alive involves dealing with the pain of
loss, whether it be the death of a loved one or some
other significant loss. In this article I focus
primarily on the death of a loved one.
Recently I sat down with two women in their late sixties
to talk about their feelings over the loss of their
husbands. It was remarkable that both women had been
married for 50 years and both lost their husbands within
the past year. Neither of them had met the other before.
It was profoundly moving to listen to them talk about
what the absence of their husbands with whom they had
spent a lifetime meant to them. They both have grown
children with families who are supportive and willing to
include them in their families, but the loneliness these
women are experiencing cannot be filled until they are
able to complete that lost relationship. There are
several aspects of grief that we need to keep in mind.
1. Spiritual persons also experience the pain of loss
A spiritual person is not immune to the pain caused by
the experience of loss. The spiritual, physical and
biological processes that occur after loss are similar
in most persons. The pain of loosing someone you love is
just as real for the spiritually in tune as well as for
those who are not. However spirituality can de deepened
and refined by the grief process.
2. Grief is a glimpse into the heart of God
Grief is the process of grappling with life and death.
The finality of death goes beyond anything else we have
to deal with in the present. In death we loose the
ability to connect with our loved one, to laugh, to cry,
to work or to help them. When we grieve, we feel more
deeply than ever. All the love, tenderness and care we
have for this one fills our hearts and we catch a
glimpse of what it means to love as God loves.
3. Grief is temporary
Like everything else in this life grief is a temporary
phenomenon. As painful as it may be, grief is not
permanent in the sense that the person only dies once.
The memory of the loss may remain forever etched in the
brain, but the individual will not come back to die
again. A person stuck in permanent grief may require
additional counseling in order to complete the process.
4. Grief is highly Individualized
Every person's journey through grief is unique since it
relates to one's personal experience and relationships.
Everyone can agree however that the experience will be
painful and involves dealing with a range of negative
emotions. While some persons have taught that grief
follows a particular course proceeding through a set
number of stages, I have found it more accurate to say
grief does involve painful emotions and difficult
thoughts but in no particular order. The grieving person
may experience a number of conflicting thoughts and
emotions in a short space of time.
5. Grief can increase the capacity for empathy
An essential part of the process of recovery from grief
and pain is to deepen one's connection with others who
suffer, whatever may be the source of the pain. The
experience of wrestling with such painful thoughts and
feelings and finding resolution involves increasing
one's capacity to confront and engage the pain.
6. Unhealthy grief blocks spiritual and emotional
I recall conducting a group in which one woman insisted
that I not mention the name of God. Her whole body shook
with rage as she declared God had taken her husband from
her 7 years ago and she was angry at him since her
husband was such a wonderful person. Even though her
husband died 7 years before she could find no
resolution, her anger at God was intense. Rage and
bitterness had been allowed to sabotage the grief
The grief process is an inevitable part of life and it
is critical for each of us to understand something of
the process and thus give ourselves a greater
opportunity to learn and grow with it.