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Grief, My Point of View

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Grief, My Point of View

grief, my point of viewGrief is a very powerful emotion.  One that can bring the strongest man to his knees weeping and bring the weakest woman unimaginable strength to provide love and support to those in need.  It’s an emotion that can pass quickly or linger for what seems an eternity.  It has little or no basis in rationalization and most people can’t “talk” themselves out of it.  I have a slightly different personal take on it.

Let me first say that I have never had any sort of grief counseling training.  I’m not experienced in working with individuals through their grief although I have been by the side of many dear friends and loved ones who have lost someone close to them.  Last year, my father-in-law passed away on Dec 6th.  Four years ago, my step mother passed away on Dec 11th.  And now, my grandfather is very near the end of his life as well.

This gets me to thinking about grief.

I see grief as a purely selfish emotion.  And, frankly, there is nothing wrong with being selfish.  Unfortunately, many people see selfish as a negative trait.

But why is grief selfish? If one believes in heaven, reincarnation or any sort of afterlife, then our deceased loved ones are truly going to a better place.  A place where they will be free of pain, sadness, hardship, etc…  They are the fortunate ones.  We ought to be overjoyed for them.  Instead, we sit in misery over our loss; the loss of the ones near and dear to us.  We agonize over how that person will no longer be there to support us, love us, provide us with advice or just an ear to hear our voices.  It’s all about me, me, me!

What if we don’t believe in anything after death?  Maybe we don’t believe there’s a better place after this.  It’s still selfish.  We aren’t mourning what they’ve lost.  We’re mourning what we have lost.  We grieve, not the passing of our loved ones, but the change we must know endure.

It might be helpful to think about what our loved ones that have passed would most want.

I know that, if I were to die today, I would want those near to me to get past the grief as quickly as possible.  I would want them to know that they have a right to find happiness without me in their lives.  It is giving me far too much credit to think that they can only find happiness if I am still alive.  I want them to celebrate the wonderful life I have lived and the lasting gifts I have given to them but not to be pulled down into sadness and heartache that they can’t find their way out of.  Grieve if helps you, but, for your own sake, make it short and move on with your life.

And, as my grandfather nears the end of his life, I know that he would want the same for me.

What are your thoughts on grief and the grieving process?


Nicole Bandes

Nicole has scaled her own personal mountain to climb out of ordinary. For over 20 years, Nicole Bandes has studied the most effective methods to increase happiness and success in her own life and in business. She has gone on to helped thousands of people in their own personal journeys to reach their goals. Contact Nicole if you are ready to stop being ordinary and have a guided tour to reach your summit of success.

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11 Comments so far:

  1. In a way, you are writing about resiliency or being resilient as it pertains to grief. Some people say grief never gets any easier and as far as I am concerned, the jury is still out on that issue. I think it depends on a great many factors as to whether an individual experiences grief and is able to move on or becomes incapacitated by the loss. I think it is possible to experience a loss, mourn the loved one (be it human or pet, or some other loss) and resume functioning under the new normal. I think the key is learning to accept the new normal – some are able to get to a level of acceptance much faster than others.

  2. Nicole Bandes says:

    Thanks Jen, I love that insight. New normal. That’s truly what it is. Great way to put it.

  3. I never thought of it that way before, and in some ways, you are right. But it is a normal reaction to death. Someone was here and now they are gone. Would you tell this to the parents who lose their children (just babies, really) to cancer? Is their grief selfish? Maybe, but only because there should have been more to their child’s life. They shouldn’t outlive them. It is supposed to be the other way around. That is not selfish. EVERY SINGLE DAY, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer. Are their parents selfish for grieving about it? For crying over the heartbreaking news? I don’t think so. It is normal. Same goes with children who are killed in accidents and every other way a child can die. Grief over losing a child, no matter how old they are, is just cause for grieving. Grieving is perfectly acceptable. We have NO clue what another person goes through, no matter how close we may be to them, and therefore we shouldn’t judge. BTW I am a childhood cancer survivor and I lost my 72-year-old grandmother to Alzheimer’s in September 2009. Sorry for the rant but had to throw my two cents in.

  4. Jim KIpp says:

    I feel the same way regarding our loved ones who have passed. They are the blessed one’s as they get to spend eternity with out lord and savior

  5. Ruth says:

    I think grief is unique to everyone and depends upon so many factors. Of course it is a selfish emotion and it changes through the various stages that is goes through, every time it happens it is different However when someone you love ends their life (or their life is taken away from us suddenly) you are faced with a number of extremely raw emotions rather like being punched in the face by a heavy weight boxer then run over by a steam train. If life has already been hard and you’ve buried more than your share of friends and loved ones in a short space of time it simply becomes over whelming. Yes it is change and accepting change, however we have to remember the element of shock. As with any trauma shock affects the body negatively and takes time to settle down. Bruises fade and wounds heal, even those so deeply painful. Surround yourself with loving people who can be strong for you when you simply are unable to do so and be grateful for all the times that you did have together. Those memories are precious.

  6. Sue Rumack says:

    Grief, good grief, bad grief, just grief… It all comes down to mourning a loss. Every loss needs to be justified, valued and made sense of BEFORE the new norm that Jen so wisely brought to the front of our thoughts can be comfortably esablished. Perhaps it’s selfish, but to be a survivor you need to be selfish. You need to recognize your wisdom about the loss and then reach out to those closest to comfort and share both your understanding of YOUR new norm. Each person who suffered this loss along with you is also gettting used to new normals. As a survivor of many losses and also a coach, I can guarantee each new norm, though similar is vastly different from YOURS. Be kind to your self, be generous with other and time will heal and make sense of even the most tragic loss. This is my experience of grief. .

  7. Sally Branch says:

    When I trained as an OT many years ago I learned aboutt Worden’s model of grief -which talks about the 4 Tasks of Mourning – to accept the reality of the loss, to work through the pain of the loss, to adjust to the new reality of life without the person (the new normal mentioned by Jen above) and to move on with life.
    My own experience is of my father’s death and my mother’s diagnosis of dementia, which is a sort of death of her as she was before she became ill. An ongoing mourning process.
    The four tasks are descriptions of human psychological processes and from experience working with people grieving, they need to take place. You can’t move on until you accept the loss – acknowledge its happening. For most of us that involves feeling painful emotions – and avoiding feeling these – because they are painful – can leave a person ‘stuck’, sometimes for many years. Unable to let go. So deciding that mourning is selfish and judging yourself harshly for it is never helpful. I do agree though, that from a spiritual perspective there is no loss. With my mother, I hang on to that and celebrate the ‘new her’ without always wishing she were the ‘old her’. But emotions are emotions – lets not judge ourselves or others for having them.

  8. Cath says:

    Grief – just like love – has proven to be notoriously difficult to “capture” and describe, to pin it down as a “process” or a set of stages that people go through. Yes, there have been attempts to determine stages, but al of those models have faults (read “The Other Side of Sadness” by Dr George Bonanno for more on this). What the latest research shows is that grieving is a very variable experience, from person to person. Also, it can vary from one loss to the next loss for a single person.

    Your experience that grief is selfish is yours to own – it’s just as valid as any other experience of grief (or love!). And you have owned it and called it “my point of view,” so good on you for that.

    One of the reasons why grief is so difficult to “pin down” (and why the experience is so variable from one person to the next) is that there’s the actual grief experience that arrives (the physical sensations in the body, for example), and then there’s the meaning we make of it – the story we tell ourselves about what that physical sensation means. Perhaps we tell ourselves that the ache in our chest means we’re feeling sad. And then we start making deeper layers of meaning… for example making a further interpretation that “feeling sad means I’m selfish,” as you’ve done.

    These layers of meaning-making are so unique – we all craft different stories. What’s important though, is to recognize that we’re story-crafting and that the meaning we’re making isn’t necessarily “truth” or verifiable… it’s an “opinion.”

    All the stories we craft create further layers of emotional response… for example, your story that grief is selfish gives you a feeling. What feeling is that? Is that a feeling you want to have? I feel sure you’re offering this story/ opinion because it’s a story that makes your grief feel a little lighter, and you hope it would do so for others. It’s good that we “try out” stories in this way and offer them to others… in the traditional African culture, this story-offering is a central part of collective grieving rituals and it helps the primary griever to form positive meaning as they grieve and make sense of their loss. I wish we were better at story-offering in the Western world!

    If your story is giving you the feelings you want and helping you to be who you want to be, then great – enjoy! But if it isn’t, then, because that feeling is coming from your story (and not your direct experience of grief), you can go back in and re-craft your story until you’ve created the meaning that gives you the feelings you want and supports you to be the person you want to be in the world.

    Words are incredibly powerful creative tools that give us a lot of liberty to feel how we want to feel and be who we want to be – even though grief.

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  10. Rebecca says:

    Maybe, selfish, is not the right word. I’m thinking, self-ful, and I doubt there is such a word, is the word coming to my mind. Losing my Father 3 mos. ago and me being his caregiver for the last 7 years, has been the hardest on my “self”. He was in hospice and doing very well. I stayed comfortable in denial, that he would not die within 6 mos. He was here one day and the next day he was gone. Every part of my “self” was crushed. Physically, I developed Shingles. Emotionally, I was a puddle of tears and a busted up heart. Well meaning people say, “he’s in a better place” and so on. You hear but, cannot believe because, of the “new normal”. Our bodies are made to absorb shock and begin the healing process. If we let it. The problem is, the information our mind has been hit with triggers emotions. It’s much like a back and forth game of the brain and emotions. Like playing catch with someone. Until the other person quits or drops the ball, the game goes on. Someone/something has to stop or change. Healing words of acceptance can be sent to our souls. If we let our faith be renewed, we can then turn our eyes from the “self” and to the peace and joy our loved one is enjoying and has earned through the blood sweat and tears of their life’s work on this Earth. A few more boatloads of tears and I may get there. Prayers and blessings to all who grieve. I’d like to add one more inspiring insight that worked for me. After writing this I realized I can use the same technique with my grieving and worrying that I used to quit smoking. I always gave myself permission to smoke while quitting. I kept an opened pack of cigs on the kit. counter. When I felt the urge to smoke, I’d acknowledge it and postpone the act after a simple task that was important to my daily life. They say the urge to smoke lasts less than 3 min. Enough time to do a simple task, deep breathing and have a smoke if I wished. I never did. I gave my “self” one month of no smoking for my 40th birthday. Funny, but, I’m using the same technique with my grieving and worrying. “Thank you for sharing, but, I’ll tend to worrying alittle later”. This is what my sort of mantra is regarding my grief and worry. One more thing about beginning to quit smoking I used was, I made my “self” stand in front of the bathroom mirror and watch my “self” smoke an entire cig. I became aware of what everyone else sees. Yuk and a half. I also was on a bowling team. I had to quit having beers with the girls for my gift month for obvious reasons. I’m 66, smoke free because I believe I studied my habit and declared war on the enemy I convinced myself was a friend. I did not like to smoke, as so many smokers claim, I loved the “fix”. If cigs were nicotine free we’d never light another cig. Worry and grieving is in the same category as far as my life is concerned. Again, God bless and keep you all in his grace.

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