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  1. What is grief?
  2. The constructive and destructive aspects of grief.  
  3. Grief occurs in stages.  
  4. Techniques for managing grief.

What is grief? It is the process by which we release something from our life. This is a healing process. We usually associate grief with the death of a loved person, but grief occurs to a lesser degree whenever there is an ending to any experience; for example, there might be a breakup of a relationship, a project which failed or which disappointed us, the retirement or firing from a job, the loss of a hope for a particular thing, the ending of a pleasant experience (e.g., a party or a picnic), or even the ending of an unpleasant experience (if we have become attached to an aspect of the experience).

The constructive and destructive aspects of grief.

  1. The constructive aspects of grief.
    • Grief allows us to release something which is no longer in our life. Thus, we can move on to the next stage, with its new opportunities.
    • Grief forces us to confront the fact that we will die someday. This awareness can add depth and meaning to our everyday existence, and it can compel us to evaluate our values so we are focused on significant activities in our short lifetime.
  2. The destructive aspects of grief.
    • Grief is painful. The pain occurs because we have lost something which was the recipient of our love. "Love" is our subjective experience of the flow of spiritual substance from one person to another person (i.e., one soul to another soul). When the recipient disappears, the flow has nowhere to go; therefore, we must shut off that flow (temporarily, until we find another recipient). The shutting-off of this precious flow causes the intense pain of grief (and of the related phenomenon of "heartbreak" in a relationship).
    • We might fail to complete the grief process. Thus, we have unresolved archetypal-field elements (e.g., the emotional energy of anger) which will linger within us, influencing us in our future life; for example, the unresolved anger will cast that anger into our general experience of life.

Grief occurs in stages.

  1. Withdrawal from the previous condition. Various authors have said that these experiences occur in a particular order -- but the authors' chronologies differ, so I am simply leaving them in a list; indeed, each person might encounter these experiences in a different order.
    • Denial and disbelief. We cannot believe that the loss has occurred. We deny that it has happened: "That can't be true!" Even after we intellectually acknowledge the loss, we might not accept it emotionally.
    • Shock. This numbness helps us to survive the emotional shock until we are ready to confront the reality of the loss.
    • Anger. We might be angry at various things:
      • The person. We might feel that the person has abandoned us.
      • Ourselves. We might be angry at ourselves for not doing more to help the person to survive.
      • A deity. We might be angry at a deity (or at life itself) for allowing (or causing) the loss to occur.
      • Someone who might be responsible for the loss. For example, we might be angry at the doctor who was unable to sustain the person's life.
    • Guilt. We might believe (correctly or incorrectly) that we were partially responsible for the loss, or that we should have been at the scene when the loss occurred (e.g., at the bedside of the dying person), or that we should have acted differently (e.g., friendlier) when the person was alive.
    • Loneliness. If the person has been a significant part of our social life, we feel loneliness.
    • Sadness or depression.
  2. The end of the withdrawal. Eventually, the first stage comes to an end; we begin to leave behind that which is truly behind us.
    • Acceptance. We accept the fact that this part of our life has gone. The loss is reality.
    • Appreciation. Replacing the unpleasant emotions regarding that which has departed, we experience pleasant emotions and "energy tones," e.g., gratitude for having known the person, and a savoring of the enjoyable memories.
    • A belief that the person is in a pleasant circumstance (e.g., a heaven). We can believe that life continues after death, and that the person is happy now -- perhaps even happier, particularly if the person was suffering with an illness before death.
    • A consideration of the deceased person's "best wishes" for us. Many grievers say, "I know that he (or she) would want me to be happy, and to carry on with my life." We realize that our desire to be happy again is not a betrayal of the deceased person.
    • A release of the social rewards. During grief, we receive compassion and caring and extra attention. And we receive flowers and greeting cards. But eventually, we are expected to return to being a "regular person" who can both give and receive comfort.
  3. Creating a new life for ourselves. The person stays with us forever -- in our memories, and in the various ways in which or she changed us and affected us in the past. But now we look to the present and the future, to re-enter the mainstream of life, and to find other people to fulfill our current needs. Our life goes on.
    • Hope. We believe that it is possible for us to be happy again, and to have a full life (although nothing can replace the particular gifts which were granted by the deceased person). We might even hope that the rest of our life can be better than the previous part of our life.
    • Responsibility for generating a new life. We do not rely on the departed person, or on people's sympathy. Instead, we realize that we have to make an effort.
    • Re-investment of ourselves. The departed person was the recipient of our attention, our time, and our emotional energy (including our love and affection). While still retaining our memories, we search for new people and situations in which we can give and receive the time, attention, and emotional energy.
    • Our new identity. For example, a widow is no longer "Joe's wife"; instead, she looks to her other identities, e.g., "businesswoman" or "craftsperson." And we know that the grief process itself will change us into a different person.
    • Our new lifestyle. In situations where the departed person would have been involved, we create new habits, and new ways of doing things.

Techniques for managing grief.

  1. Archetypal field-work.
    • Self-talk. "I can create a new life." "[The person] would want me to be happy."
    • Directed imagination. We can visualize ourselves being happy in new circumstances, with new people.
    • Energy toning. We can generate the energy tones of peacefulness, happiness, etc.
    • The "as if" principle. When we are ready to re-enter regular life, we can act as if we are strong and confident.
  2. Intuition. Intuition can tell us how to deal with every phase of grief, with the appropriate thoughts, images, energy tones, and actions. And we can intuit the ultimate benevolence of life which gives to us and takes from us -- all for our growth and education.
  3. We can deal with each of the emotional aspects of grief, e.g., anger, fear, guilt. Other chapters in this book deal with those aspects.
  4. We can practice grieving in the small "deaths" of our life. Moment by moment, there are changes in our life; each one is a death. We are in a constant state of dying and birthing -- and grieving.
  5. We can learn how to detach ourselves from the past. Refer to the chapter regarding attachment.
  6. We can learn about "cycles," including the cycles of life and death. Refer to the chapter regarding cycles.
  7. We can accept the situation. Refer to the chapter regarding acceptance.
  8. We can look for unresolved grief from our past. For example, we might not have completed the grief process from the death of a parent during our childhood. We can complete the various aspects of that process now.
  9. We can develop resources in our life, to prepare for future losses. For example, if we have only one friend, our sense of loss will be immense if that friend dies -- but if we have many friends, we can turn to those other people to fulfill our need for friendship.
  10. We can learn to assist people who are grieving. Sometimes those people will need to be alone, but sometimes they might need comfort and other types of support from their friends. Our attentiveness, conversations, and intuition can help us to discover ways in which we can assist the people during this difficult period.


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