Grief: It’s About More Than Death
by Joe’l Anthony
This past week I had a very interesting and eye-opening conversation with a complete stranger.
As we spoke, he shared with me that 15 years ago he owned a very successful construction company. He went on to disclose that due to the economic crisis our country experienced in 2008, he lost his business and most of his personal assets. He stated that he’d done everything in his power to save his business and support his employees — even paying for his employees’ salaries with his own personal checks.
He described the unexpected emotional turmoil he experienced due to the loss of his business. He suffered from depression, humiliation, and guilt as he was forced to lay off his employees one by one. Before ending our conversation, he shared that since losing his business he has lost a piece of himself and suffers from depression so intense that he no longer sees “the light at the end of the tunnel”. He said that he often questions ending his life and cannot figure out why. As he spoke, tears began to run down his face and it hit me that subconsciously he is still grieving the loss of his business.
In our society, we isolate the word “grief” to a sole association with death. The truth is that grief is defined as the emotional response to a loss of ANY kind. When experiencing a loss that is not connected to the death of a loved one, we as individuals need to give ourselves permission to grieve. Many times we are unaware that we are even grieving due to our society’s limited view of death and grief, in combination with our very own ignorance.
Grief is not meant to permanently paralyze us. As crazy as it sounds, grief gives us the tools needed to fully experience and appreciate life. Recognizing that we are grieving is the first step we must take to heal, rebuild/reinvest, and move forward. When we educate ourselves on what grief really is, we free ourselves to learn from and grow through the experience instead of making the temporary experience last a lifetime.
We have all experienced the loss of a relationship, business venture, dream/goal, partnership, or other emotional attachment. We are told that “life goes on,” “there must be something or someone better out there,” or to simply “get over it.” How is this healthy and what does this really accomplish? How does this allow us to heal and move forward in a way that is truly productive?
Loss can be experienced whenever we develop an emotional attachment to anything and the experience of loss affects each of us in unique ways. As individuals, the manner in which we choose to grieve cannot be defined or limited to a step-by-step process. According to Recover-From-Grief.com, a wonderful resource for support and information about grief, the stages of grief are as follows:
- Shock and Denial
- Pain and Guilt
- Anger & Bargaining
- Depression, Reflection, Loneliness
- The Upward Turn
- Reconstruction and Working Through
- Acceptance and Hope
It is believed by most mental health professionals that all of these stages must be experienced in order for one to recover and rebuild after a loss. Please take the time to educate yourself and your family about what grief truly is and know that expressing the feelings associated with your loss is natural and necessary.
Joe’l Simone Anthony, also known as ‘The Grave Woman,’ is a graduate of the Gupton Jones College of Funeral Service in Atlanta, Georgia. She is dedicated to eliminating misconceptions about post-life preparation while stimulating an open, honest and straight forward discussion about death. You can submit your comments, questions and requests to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her website www.thegravewoman.com.