The Many Layers of Grief

20130311-194328.jpgI’ve walked alongside many clients through the loss of loved ones. I’ve sat with them as they wept, questioned, doubted, feared, and accepted. I’ve walked alongside many more as they have grieved other losses, losses that are more subtle, but very debilitating.

Grief is often viewed in very limited terms. People contend that it’s defined by a “significant” loss of a family member or friend. In each loss, however, there are a thousand smaller losses. In each experience of grief a thousand ways that the pieces of that loss converge and develop into a significant process.

Some of those layers include the loss of unmet expectations or dreams, when we expect our marriage to go a certain way and we wake up out of a fog to find it a thin representation of our robust hopes. We can experience the loss of time, recognizing that what we wanted to accomplish has eluded our grasp, and left us disillusioned to the reality before us. Others feel the acute sting of lost health, where our hope of good physical, emotional, and spiritual health is disrupted by the reality of sickness, emotional pain, or spiritual numbness.

Grief is an infinitely more complex process than we often realize. And its a process that we all face daily, in some form or another. These layers of grief can derail us if we’re unaware of their formation and the magnitude and sway they hold in our lives. What are the layers of grief you’re facing today? How do they affect you?

When understood well, these losses can walk us through a process of evaluating and understanding ourselves. They can have the impact of highlighting how we’re lost, and where we could go to experience transformation. They can be gentle guides, rather than startling disruptions.

My own losses have guided me along, at times gently, and other times more sharply. I expected that my life would look very different than it does today. I expected my work, my family, my health, and my spiritual life would all have a different type of vibrancy. I couldn’t have anticipated the twists and turns my life would take. What I do know is that the more I surrender to those changes, the more freedom I have to come through them well, and to appreciate the vibrancy that is currently there. I hope you are able to experience that same freedom. I invite you to dialogue with me, share your own stories, or consider what the many layers of grief are teaching you today.

One thought on “The Many Layers of Grief

  1. Teresa

    Thank you so much for the wisdom contained throughout your posts, they are invaluable to me. I lost my husband suddenly and very unexpectedly in January of 2012 – I am just now finding my way out of the “fog” – writing about my experience has helped me to find perspective – all I can say is simply, “grief is exhausting”

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