“Grief never ends ... But it changes, it’s a passage not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith ... It is the price of love.”— Unknown

I lost an uncle at the beginning of the summer and in my grief with my family, I realized the amount of loss that we all are dealing with these days. Most often grief is associated with death, but any loss, such as, divorce, loss of a pet, illness, loss of finances, or an impending move or life change, can trigger a grief process. Relationships define us and who we are; they become intimately entwined into our sense of self and are thus a living part of us. It is terribly painful to lose key relationships, because with such losses, we also lose a part of ourselves. It is not easy to let go of close relationships that were instrumental in molding who we are and were positive influences in our lives.

Grief is a natural response to loss and can feel overwhelming. It is the emotional suffering you feel when someone or something you love is taken away. You may experience various difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to loss—and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be. The difficult thing about grief is that the world around you keeps revolving, although your world feels frozen. The reason grief can be so difficult is that others will not understand it, because they are not you.

Grieving is a highly individual experience; there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief emotions may vary in their intensity and how much they impact an individual. The stages of grief can overlap or recur, causing feelings of confusion. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and how significant the loss was to you. Inevitably, the grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it cannot be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it is important to be patient and allow the process to unfold naturally.

Remember that grief is a season. There will come a day it does not hurt as bad, where you can see a little more clearly and smiling will feel more natural. It will come. But for the time of the process, it is okay to grieve. Let yourself feel what you need to feel.

Brenda-Lee Duarte is executive director at LifeLine Counseling Center. Contact her at 981-7400.

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