Grief, Bereavement, Loss, and the Journey to Recovery

As an inevitable part of the human experience, grief accompanies the loss of a loved one.  Grief manifests differently for each individual, encompassing a range of emotions that can be overwhelming. It’s best to embrace these emotions rather than suppress them, as a crucial step towards healing. Since society’s often unrealistic expectations regarding the duration and expression of grief can hinder the recovery process, seek support from friends, family, or therapy during the journey of healing.

At Aspire, one of the most common problems people encounter when grieving is the unrealistic expectations of how we should grieve.  These unrealistic expectations can come from within us—we judge our feelings, how long we’ve been grieving, the intensity of the feelings, you name it.  The problem with this is that the judgment only increases the suffering.  Whatever you are feeling after you lose someone you love, know that it is normal for you.  How you feel is how you feel, so lean into it.  The more we can do that, the easier those feelings can move through us and the process does not stagnate.  When we judge how we feel, we are heaping a negative judgment on the inevitable sadness and distress we already feel.  So, cut yourself a great deal of slack and be kind to yourself.  Allow yourself to feel.  You are wired to feel, just as you are wired to think and move.

Unrealistic expectations of how we grieve can also come from other people, which can compound our suffering when we grieve.  So often when people are grieving, friends and family often mean well, but cause harm when they try to impose their own ideas about how and for how long we should grieve.  Or other people can cause harm inadvertently when they can’t or won’t listen to your experience of grief.  Know this is NOT about you.  It’s about others inability to hold space for that pain or their avoidance of having to feel that pain themselves.

So, in light of this, choose the friends and family you share with carefully. Remember, as Bréne Brown teaches, you only share the vulnerable parts of yourself with people you trust.  And trust is built slowly, over time, in small moments.  You know the people who are there for you, in small moments, over time, who show up, listen, and love you for you.

The Path to Healing and Resilience

Recovery from grief is not about moving on or forgetting, but rather about integrating your loss in a way that allows for growth. By adjusting your perspective and finding meaning in the midst of pain, you can emerge from the depths of grief with newfound resilience. Try engaging in activities that honor the memory of the departed and fostering a sense of connection that transcends the physical presence.

Often, we recommend to people that they create rituals, like having a time each day where they “allow” themselves to remember their loved one and feel whatever comes up.  This could be a quiet moment at home or on a walk in nature.  This ritual of grieving allows your body to move through the grief in little bits over time, rather than having the pressure of unfelt grief build and build until it spills over at the least opportune moment.

Another ritual that some people find helpful is to journal about your loved one and what you are feeling.  It really doesn’t matter what you write, just that you are expressing what comes up:  memories of your loved one, feelings that are coming up for you, anniversaries that are approaching, people that are helping.

More Resources on Grief

In “Navigating the Landscape of Grief: A Path to Recovery,” The Atlantic dives into the complex process of bereavement and how individuals can embark on a journey towards healing by exploring the various stages of grief recovery and guidance for those seeking comfort.  While the stages of grief are not fixed, it can help ease the pain to know what is “normal” and what to expect as we journey through grief.  By understanding the complexities of grief, accepting each stage you experience, and seeking healthy ways to cope, you can navigate your unique path to recovery.