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Let's Expand the Definition of Grief



Day 93: Let’s Expand the Definition of Grief


I find that much of my early work with people is helping them expand their own definitions of what grief is. It is so common that we only think of grief as sorrow and pain. Yet it is much more complex than that. Grief is an adaptive biological mechanism that allows for us humans to sit with what cannot be fixed, changed, controlled, and what might never make sense.


At the beginning of a grief journey, it can feel that grief is purely the awfulness and misery and tears and pain. And yet, even within this acute phase of grief, there is typically a moment or day or even a week when I hear from clients—“I’m worried because I didn’t feel it as much this week. What does this mean?”


This reprieve is ALSO part of grief’s way of moving through us. Grief is an oscillation between the deep pain and (when you pay attention), moments of reprieve. Sometimes reprieve early on takes the form of “feeling more numb,” or “not being able to access the memories,” or “just not feeling the pain like I did a few days ago.”

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