What does a healthy grieving process look like in our modern world? Many of us have learned the stages of grieving a loss, various examples of what a loss is considered to be in an individual’s life, and the idea that everyone has different ways of grieving losses. But what does a healthy grieving process look like as we live our daily lives? I was surprised that I haven’t seen many articles written about this specific aspect of grieving. Although everyone is different, there are healthier and more helpful ways all of us can grieve well.
Our modern world has become extremely busy for most of us. In ancient times individuals and families would take days to grieve a loss in their lives like a friend’s illness or family death. Not so today in our modern Western culture. We may get a day or a week off of work if we are lucky to grieve! From my experience, Western culture seems to emphasize performance and achievement over mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. So how can we grieve in a healthy way in such a busy, performance-oriented culture?
The best illustration I can think of are the waves of the seashore. A healthy grieving process looks like the waves of the sea crashing on the shore. They come into the shore and then go recede back into the ocean. This is much like our feelings of sadness, anger, bargaining, and so on that feel in the grieving cycle. Many times the waves come in very strong at the beginning, and then vary, and finally they diminish in their intensity as we approach the acceptance stage of our loss. The most helpful approach is to not resist or ruminate too much. What we resist persists. And if we are ruminating, dwelling, or obsessing with our loss for too long, it can be destructive to other areas of our lives like work and personal relationships for example. Our response needs to be to just allow the thoughts and feelings to come in without resisting them and then release the feelings back to the universe and God just like guiding the ocean waves back into the ocean.
How can you help someone you know grieve in a healthy way? Here are a few helpful suggestions that I found to be true from my experience and the experience of other healthy individuals:
⦁ Never tell someone to “just get over it!” Burying feelings of sadness and anger will only lead to other future issues. And it may take years for someone to fully grieve their loss.
⦁ Help the person to release their feelings back to God and/or the universe if they are obsessing or dwelling too much on their loss. It’s normal to feel preoccupied especially by recent losses. But if work and social life starts to suffer, it may be time for the person to redirect their thoughts and activities in a healthier way.
⦁ Remember that what is considered a loss varies per individual and everyone has a unique way of healthy grieving that works for them.
I hope this article was helpful and that it gives you a general explanation as to what healthy and helpful grieving looks like in our modern world.