Grieving a Loss – Part One

When people think of grieving, they often think of it in terms of the process that follows a death.  The death of a loved one is just one of the losses a person encounters in life.  There are other losses a person grieves.  These losses may include: the loss of youth and innocence, the loss of a job or career, the loss of a relationship, the loss of mobility, or the loss of hearing.  Many times people do not work through the grief that follows each loss.  Unresolved losses pile up until a significant loss happens that sends the pile crashing into a pit of depression, loneliness, and despair.

Grieving over a major loss does not take a few days or weeks.  It takes years.  I have been grieving my hearing loss for 17 years.  In the beginning the grief was always there.  Now the grief comes and goes.  Events happen that trigger emotions.  I then find myself grieving (healing) some more.

Grief’s Courageous Journey by Sandi Caplan and Gordon Lang is a workbook that helps a person through the grieving process.  It focuses on grieving the loss of a loved one although one can easily use the workbook with the loss of hearing in mind.    The authors encourage the person working through grief to keep a journal.  The first assignment is to make a time line and list in chronological order the losses they have encountered up to the present loss.  Readers are then encouraged to write about the emotions experienced as they identify and remember each loss.

We are all unique individuals.  Therefore it makes sense that we will grieve in different ways.  Some people cry, others feel numb.  Some focus on their pain and others divert attention away from themselves by focusing on others.  Some feel angry or bitter, and others feel guilt. The authors recommend readers think about how they have traditionally responded to grief up to this point in their life.  A pattern of response may emerge that will give insight on how the present loss is being handled.

We often receive unwritten rules about how we are expected to be handling our grief from family members, friends, and society.  Next month’s article will be about the authors’ interpretation of what grief is and what it is not.

Caplan, S and Lang, G. (1995).  Grief’s courageous journey.  Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

(A reprint of an article I wrote 20 years ago, when I was the founding President of ALDA-Suncoast of Florida, a support group for people who have become deaf.  The article appeared in the newsletter, ALDA-Sun. At the time, I was going back to school to change professions from being a foreign language teacher to becoming a mental health counselor.)