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Is Grief Only Related to Death?

Recently I gave a talk about grief to a local group.  At the end of the talk I was approached by a lady who told me that she had never associated the painful emotions she felt after her divorce as being grief.  Listening to the information I shared during my presentation, she now recognised that what she had been through was grief for her relationship that had died.  This isn’t the first time that I have heard a story like this.  Quite often people only associate grief with someone having died.  The reality is that there are over 40 life events that cause us to feel grief.

Every change that we encounter can bring about feelings of grief.  Have you ever had a relationship that ended?  Lost a pet?  Lost trust in someone?  Retired or was made redundant?  The likelihood is that you may have had a grief reaction and not realised what it was.

The English Dictionary defines grief as: intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.  Having worked with grieving people for several years now, my favourite definition of grief is from the Grief Recovery Handbook which states: ‘Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behaviour’. 

Can you relate to any of these?

  • Being excited having moved to a new house or to a new area but at the same time missing your old friends and the place you used to live
  • Realising the dream of moving in with a new partner but at the same time having to adjust to someone else living in the same space as you do
  • Feeling a sense of relief when an unfulfilling friendship ends but at the same time really missing parts of the relationship that you enjoyed

Are you surprised at any of these?  Grief can be caused by many different types of loss but quite often we just don’t recognise them as grief.

If you found this article helpful, please come and join my closed Facebook Group where I regularly post information on loss