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Grief, Loss, and Self-Esteem

By Edited May 31, 2015 0 0

Surely most readers have dealt with overcoming grief. It is a process of reflection finding meaning, and healing. The common experience (grief and loss) is not only our instant awareness of the loss, but our defining it. Grief is often our reaction to loss. Grief work helps us find some clarity amidst the chaos.

Human and pet losses are common experiences that we learn to grieve over. One might find the experience of a separation or divorce very difficult, and not realize that dealing with grief and loss is also necessary. The phases of grief can become very meaningful once recognized as valid. They are:
  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance.
Grieving a situation lost can take a long time to come about because denial that things aren't changing for the better is practiced until the grim shock of needing to let go happens. Then anger at the pain resulting when the shock and numbness wears off comes and goes in the grieving. Sometimes the perceived pain-giver is the butt of anger. Other times we are angry at our own mortality.

The bargaining grief step is seemingly unconscious. It is when the griever makes a deal with the universe, a higher power, or himself, to somehow make things better. For instance, if the griever promises to say the rosary daily for the rest of his life, then the relationship or situation will heal. Spiritual bargaining is typical, and definitely fills a void until one has worked through the steps of grief.

Depression is a step that always negates hope. Part of the working through this involves taking care of oneself. Certainly the tenderness and vulnerability one feels adds to an empty attitude of meaningfulness. This is where self-esteem can be regained. It can be an opportunity for creating new competence, and savoring the present. Learning to rely on your own self judgments rather than others helps to realize that no one can take away the you that is you. You are in control of you, and your own self concept.

Some ways to retrieve self-esteem are; treat yourself as you would treat your best friend, be patient with yourself (it takes time to grieve), rest, exercise, journal, and know you will survive. Just taking a brisk walk, and possibly being gifted with bluebirds gracing your view, is a treat. If you need to dig inwardly for a gratitude during the walk, being grateful to walk is a good one! Resting can be a meditation or prayer as well as a nap.

Anticipatory grief accompanies the exhaustion before a loss. Our human emotions are just that, human. The attitude we have towards the emotions is what makes or breaks us. Wisdom perceived from the coping is the end result of acceptance and hopefulness that helps resolve our grief. We are more easily ready to forgive ourselves for any guilt or shame that we experienced in the grieving.

Another gift of the acceptance stage is that we know how to be sympathetic to another person grieving. We know that the actions and expressions of caring are what makes a difference; not just the words. Our new perspective of self will help us lead fuller lives.
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