The Lonely Pain of Common Grief and Loss
Once in a while we suffer a singular, difficult experience that causes us to question the life we live. Things can be motoring on well until this one event – a financial difficulty, a death, an injury – seems to change everything and cause us to question the things that we took for granted. We can be at a loss like we have never been before, vulnerable like we wouldn’t have thought possible. We are experiencing a common grief and loss – we can feel like there are changes that need to be made, but powerless to make them in our sadness and dejected state.
We feel it's only us
One of the common elements of this is feeling like we are the only one who's suffering. We see people on the street going about their lives and they seem untroubled. They shop, they drive and they do the things that are too hard for us in this state of loss. They don’t seem affected by what is happening to us.
It can seem that we are only the ones that are suffering, the only ones who have ever truly suffered, the first in the world to really feel loss.
Common grief and loss
The truth is that these sorts of distressing events happen once in a while to almost everyone. Our nature is often to keep this deep loss private from strangers, to turn in on ourselves and keep it close to our chests. We may put on a face of stoicism, of grim undertaking but this can seem like boredom or displeasure to those looking at us.
For all we know, those that we see going about their lives have suffered even more than us but keep this to themselves, except perhaps for the times they are in private or with loved ones.
However, when we don’t feel that others understand what we are going through, our feelings seem solitary, unique and strange to us. We often feel a strong need to talk about these things, hoping that in talking to friends or a partner they will take away these feelings.
Despite their best intentions, our friends and family can feel bewildered and uncomfortable with grief and loss. Additionally, we can feel we are unfairly burdening them. Or, we can get loaded down with advice, sure-fire ways to feel better, move on, get over it. However this can often feel empty and flat and just confirm what we thought – ‘I am alone in this’.
I encourage you to ‘get help’ when you experience a common grief and loss. Talk to someone who won’t feel bewildered or uncomfortable with your feelings and who won’t tire of you. Look for a person who won’t saddle you with advice you haven’t asked for. A professional who will work hard to understand you. This will allow you to experience the comfort that can come when someone demonstrates that they know and accept how you feel.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Now, read about four practical ways to help someone grieve.
– Tim Hill