Good Grieving Part 4: Through the Darkness, Into a New World

Good Grieving Pt. 4 by Jay FeldWhat we call “grieving” is our journey from normalcy into the disorientation, pain and darkness of loss, and then, if we do our “good grieving” work, into a new world. We all make this journey many times, in ways big and small. Learning about the predictable stages of this journey can help bring us into that new world more quickly.

We respond to loss or trauma first by denying the reality or the severity of the loss, and then when we can no longer deny it, by pushing back against it with anger and bargaining. We can become trapped in the denial-anger-bargaining cycle – denial can be a mercy and a blessing, for a time; anger may provide a welcome discharge of emotional energy; even bargaining can give us a sense that at least we’re doing something. But we never want to go willingly into the next stage, depression.

Depression is the dark and formless void between our old way of being, which we now realize is gone, and a new way of being that hasn’t yet appeared. We might feel:

  • lonely
  • unmotivated
  • isolated
  • afraid
  • numb
  • confused
  • unsafe
  • tired
  • irritable
  • lost
  • misplaced
  • abandoned
  • empty
  • broken
  • angry

This depression may simply be a consequence of exhaustion from the long, hard and often lonesome work of denial, anger and bargaining. (Of course, if depression stays for too long, or becomes debilitating, we should seek professional help quickly.)

But there is also a gift hidden deep within this type of depression. If we will allow ourselves to sit still in the void (and most often, we need others to sit there with us), admit our powerlessness and cry out for help, we will begin to experience a certain spaciousness, an open field of opportunity and new life. Now that someone or something so precious has been taken from us, we will begin to discover who we are now, and what our world is like now.

We will begin to thrive again. Clarity will replace denial, the flames of anger will cool. We will welcome again the previously painful memories that get triggered by birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. Eventually an entire hour, then a whole day, will pass before we are reminded of our loss. We will find that we have broken out of the cocoon of grief and have become transformed into something we couldn’t have known before. We will recognize that many of those around us have been making the same journey as we have been; they are with us, and we are not alone.

One of the great overarching themes in my counseling practice is this journey through darkness into a new world. Let’s walk together for a while on your journey of “good grieving,” into your new world.

Jay R. Feld HeadshotDr. Jay R. Feld
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
(917) 572-4068

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