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Why Does Grieving Hurt?

Grieving is one of the most painful processes in life, which is why we often avoid it as long as we can. Grief is the emotional experience that occurs after we have lost something or someone that we can never get back. One of the reasons we work so hard to avoid grief is because, inherent in the grief process is the acknowledgement that we cannot recapture what is now gone forever. In so many other dimensions that deal with loss throughout life, we can pad the rough landing with the understanding that, although we may have experienced a loss of some sort, we have some ability and agency over ameliorating the loss. For instance, if we lose in competition, we are able to engage in that sport or game again and be granted to opportunity to recapture victory. Even in a more severe situation like a break-up after a long-term relationship, grief is certainly part of the process as we need to be able to envision what our lives will look like without that particular person. After a break-up, however, solace can be found in the hopes that we will find another suitable partner to replace the previous one. This, as we all know, is not the case when we lose someone to death.

While no one disagrees that grieving a loss after a death is one of the most difficult experiences a human being can go through, it can seem as though not addressing the loss is an easier way out of the pain and suffering that comes along with losing a loved one. Unfortunately, with grief, as is the case with addiction, the road to solution is not one paved with candy canes and gum drops. The quickest way from point A (the instigation of grief emotions) to point B (acceptance of the loss and the harvesting of strength to push forward) is straight through the middle of the suffering. What is specifically meant by this is that we have to allow ourselves to really and truly experience the emotions associated with grief such as anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The reason these experiences are required is due to that fact that we must be able to face the crisis of existence head on; we cannot expect to engage in half-hearted attempts to understand why these things happen, but rather to harvest the capacity to be resilient while persevering through difficult emotional states in order to reach our full potential.  

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