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can function as a creative, restorative and often painful link towards autonomy,
conscious living, vocation and individuation.
"The earth beneath us feels on fire when we are stricken by serious losses and traumas.
We are overwhelmed by pain, tears, guilt feelings, anger and fear.
Difficulty in sleeping, palpitations, indigestion, body aches—
all are symptoms that the autonomous nervous system has been disturbed."
---Leick & Davidsen-Nielsen
The Grieving Process: Dealing with Death
HISTORICALLY, loss has typically been conceptualized as an overt, physical separation from another person, as in death. Freud, who pioneered the term grief-work, defined loss as the reaction to the loss of a loved person or to the loss of some abstraction which has taken the place of one, such as one country, liberty, an ideal, and so on; (Freud). Loss embodies itself in many other forms, other than death, which are often termed as ambiguous loss, ambiguous in this sense meaning open to more than one interpretation. Loss is not just about literal death.
ATTACHMENT & SEPARATION. There is a common thread weaving through an individual loss and grief story: attachment and separation. Where there is attachment, there must eventually be loss. Where there is loss, there must be an accompanying grieving process for healthy adaptation and recovery. Once those losses have been identified consciously through self-discovery, the grieving process and healing may begin. And so, because people can attach to multiplicity of people, places, and things in their lives, loss represents a universality of living. Loss is a part of daily life. Frequently these losses are marginalized and because of this, often they are not attended to. Unattended-to loss can lead to complicated grief
CHANGE. There is a connection between loss and change and often loss is disguised in change. Many people do not recognize change as something to grieve: getting married, having children, being promoted, finishing a difficult project, to name only a few all represent some kind of loss and are deserving of a reasonable amount of time to grieve. Other losses, outside of the identified death, may include divorce, chronic illness, miscarriage, abortion, and amputation, the prognosis of a terminal illness, mental or physical retardation, and critical phases of life such as retirement.
ATTACHMENTS. Relatedness, a particular manner of connectedness, is central to physical health, longevity, a meaningful social life, and to the growth and development of the self. Within these multiple relationships, people have a tremendous capacity to form significant attachments with others in their environments. These attachments or social contexts are used to organize, define, validate, anchor, and provide meaning for life.
MARGINALIZED, DISENFRANCHISED & COMPLICATED GRIEF. Some losses are stigmatized or not recognized by society, culture, community, family or even self, this can create what is known as disenfranchised grief; when this occurs a person does not have a socially recognized right, role, or capacity to grieve. Marginal losses show up frequently in daily living, and include illness, unrealized dreams, divorce, heartbreak, abuse, neglect, developmental change or crisis, job promotion, a completed project, miscarriage, abortion, amputation, trauma; the list goes on infinitum. Often there is emotional or physical pain involved in loss, though the loss may appear minor on the surface. When marginal loss or any type of loss is left unattended to, or even resisted, it can become complicated. Complicated grief can manifest itself through all manner of pathology such as sadness, anger, guilt and self-reproach, loneliness, fatigue, helplessness, shock, yearning, emancipation, relief, and numbness, depression, obsession, fear, and more The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is full of symtomologies that are correlated to various disorders including bereavement.
THE GOOD NEWS. There is joy at the end of the tunnel of loss. Though the experiences of death and loss can sometimes knock you flat, the pain of it all can be redeemable. Suffering can be productive. We know that painful experiences of all kinds sometimes stimulate sublimations, or even bring out quite new gifts in some people, who may take to painting, writing or other productive activities under the stress of frustrations and hardships. Others become more productive in a different way; more capable of appreciating people and things, more willing to accept change, and more tolerant in their relationships to others they become wiser.