Grieving Takes Many Forms

Grieving Takes Many Forms


By Mary Emma Allen

Attending a weekend workshop on grief helped me deal with death and losses in my family over the ensuing years. It enabled me to understand that grief takes many forms and may not occur only with a death. Also, each person is affected differently by a loss and deals with grief in various ways.

Just because we face a loss one way doesnÂ’t mean that everyone else must do the same. WeÂ’re all different people and have different ways of dealing with a situation, have varied strengths to draw upon, have different levels of faith to get us through.

Various Forms of Loss

The leader of the grief workshop made me realize that grief doesnÂ’t occur simply because of a death. This often is the greatest loss and the one we think of when the word grief comes to mind.

However, other traumas in our lives that bring about some type of grief may include:

*Loss of health because of illness or an accident

*Loss of a pet

*Loss of a job

*Loss of a home because of a natural or financial disaster

*Loss of a friendship

He pointed out that traumatic changes in our lives, changes that cause a difference in our routine, affect us and our emotions and cause a great gap. IÂ’d never thought of grief as anything other than being connected with death, but realized that what he said was true.

Think of losses youÂ’ve encountered in the above categories. Have you been disappointed or discouraged with yourself because you seemed to be in the doldrums afterwards? You may not have experienced the sense of loss as you would at a death, but there was a loss that affected you. On some level, you were grieving for this loss and must give yourself time to adjust.

Also, when friends and family encounter these losses, realize that this may account for mood changes, for emotional swings, for their being impatient with you. It may not have anything to do with you. Right or wrong, itÂ’s simply their way of grieving and dealing with this loss.

Others Need You

However, as one encounters grief, realize there are other people who need you, who care for you, and who are important to you. Begin to go forward with your life for them if you feel you canÂ’t yet for yourself. Focus your thoughts and life on them as you pull yourself from grief.

The main thing is not to become so consumed by grief that one becomes useless to family, friends, and oneself...that we use it as an excuse to be nonfunctional and non-productive even years later. The loss may always be with us, but other people need us, too. We are special in their lives.

(c)2001 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen, book author and columnist, often writes about family matters for magazines and online publications. Her most recent book, "When We Become the Parent to Our Parents," chronicles her mother's journey through Alzheimer's. Visit her web site or email her at

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