Grief is a familiar construct in our lives, but we don’t really see what’s behind the grief. Few believe the original source of grief is actually love. It’s human nature to try and seek out love and cherish it wherever we go. I say this because I was recently watching Bones…you know? That crime show that was popular on Fox? Anyway, I heard a myth that backs up my theory on love from the show.
Plato believed that human beings were once two people conjoined as one. Everyone had two faces and two sets of limbs. Zeus was threatened by this version of man, so we were split and scattered over the world. Now we are forced to seek out our other halves forever. Plato’s philosophy explains the constant search for love partaken by people.
After hearing that, it got me thinking. People are naturally drawn to find happiness where they may. The loss of that euphoria is what causes us to grieve. I realized most of us think grief is associated mainly with death. Have you ever considered it from the perspective of loss before? Can someone suffer after losing a job or when a relationship goes south? A lost scholarship, perhaps? There are numerous sources of loss and just as many ways to grieve.
Depending on the person and loss, grief could be different. I’ve personally experienced a few types of suffering myself.
I recently got a litter of puppies. It had been years since I had any, and I was over the moon. I fell in love with a particular pup. I named him Levi. He was the smallest of his siblings, and he had a lot of health issues. But he outlived his own life expectancy, and I had high hopes he’d live to be an adult. Sadly, there was this frigid night that rolled in, and Levi fell sick. When I found him the following day, he was so weak I was terrified I’d lose him. I didn’t know what to do or who to call. He never made it to lunch that day…I came to learn that what I felt was anticipatory grief. The grief that sets in when you know you’re about to lose something. The calm before the storm if you will. Perhaps you’ve felt this before.
Many people, especially men, have been forced to put on a stony face in the wake of loss. They bottle up their emotions instead of expressing their grief. As a result, they go through masked grief. Masked grieving can go hand in hand with other types of grief. Delayed grief happens when the mask finally falls off, and they grieve anew. Inhibited grief also comes up since the person never showed signs of distress outwards as they masked it.
There’s one last scenario I haven’t looked at. Going through a breakup sucks, I know. But some breakups are worse than others, and the repercussions from the loss can be severe, to say the least. We tend to feel several things, from sadness to anger and everything in between. When your brightest hopes come tumbling down at the end of a relationship you cherished, different griefs manifest themselves.
Extreme anger and guilt, hostility and hatred to your ex, and self-destructive behaviors could be signs of distorted grief. Distorted grief often leads to feelings of shame and regret later, especially if the actions were unwarranted. In some cases—shortly after, but not limited to the breakup— someone could feel exaggerated grief, where emotions are at extreme levels. Eventually all kinds of grief are most likely accompanied by secondary grief, which is like a second wave of melancholy.
I don’t believe we have any control over the kind of grief we feel. However, we may have some control over what we feel, like finding better outlets for our grief before it consumes us.
Grief is a combination of several emotions and stages. Most people know of denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance, with other emotions in between. There’s no specific order for the stages, or whether someone could lapse back into their previous stages. Emotional release is standard, especially for distorted grief. For example, there are bursts of anger or sadness towards your ex when you think about them. We experience remorse and deliberate on ways we could’ve averted the loss. But the biggest stage of grief that is overlooked is hope, which comes after acceptance.
Despite our best interests, it’s challenging to convince a person they’re in grief. For the lesser-known types of grief, you may know someone close to you is going through grief. But only they can acknowledge suffering for what it is and at their own pace. I believe it’s always best to be there for one another and seek help when we need it. For where there is love, there will be grief. We cannot separate the two, and we cannot live without love. What we can do is express our love, overcome our agonies, and love again.