Grief is a complicated thing. It’s never the right time to lose someone that we care about. Even when we can mentally prepare for their passing, it doesn’t change the pain. Our reaction to loss is unpredictable leaving us feeling out of control. Coping with death is never easy, but it feels socially acceptable to mourn when someone is no longer with us. We rarely talk about how to address the grief associated with losing a person, place or thing that is still a part of this world. Losing a friendship/relationship, career/job, educational opportunity, giving a child up for adoption, losing a home/apartment are all examples of loss that deserve a time to mourn. Limiting our grief to loss of life prevents us from opportunities to grow and heal in other areas.
When it comes to the negative chapters in life, many WOC (and women in general) have trouble slowing down long enough to face their experience. Grief is uncomfortable so it makes sense that we fail to acknowledge our losses; especially those we can replace. If a relationship ends, we can find someone else or choose to be alone. If we lose a job, we can find another one or start a new venture. You get the picture. Failing to take these losses seriously because they aren’t permanent in our minds doesn’t change their impact. Loss of any kind has a purpose and the emotions attached have intentional meaning in our healing process. The TEAR Model of Grief by J.W. Worden breaks down the four tasks of grief:
Acceptance is always a great start for any healing journey. If we’ve lost something important to us, there is no shame in acknowledging this. Once we accept the reality, we should take the time we need to stop and be present with the pain. Experiencing these emotions look different for all of us, but what matters is that we allow ourselves to feel. Next up, is adjusting to the new environment. After a break-up or job loss, this can mean new routines, a new living situation, new friendships, and/or new lifestyle. This is huge and many of us carry on without giving ourselves credit for the hard work it takes to reinvest in a new reality. Similar to the stages of grief, the TEAR model is not linear. We should always give ourselves time to ebb and flow throughout the different tasks at our own pace.
Minimizing our experience doesn’t change the magnitude of our feelings. Especially the feelings we try to mask or force down until we’re ready to cope. Grief can be a helpful tool in our journey if we give it space. This means acknowledging when we’ve lost something and how it changed our lives. We can place our pain on the backburner, but this will not stop our grief from taking center stage in our world at inconvenient times. The best option is to face our emotions during a time of bereavement. Have a spectacular week and give yourself credit for showing up as such a force in your life!