This is my first entry in my website about a topic that I am quite familiar with, both personally and professionally. The experience of grief. This is a psychology “blog” with my thoughts and observations regarding the suffering brought about by grief, but also about resilience in the human experiences when dealing with the inevitability of life. I am hoping to engage in a dialogue not only with psychologists but with all who may read my article “blog”, and wish to share their feelings and experiences. I would like very much to hear your specific experiences.
FINDING MEANING IN OUR GRIEF
By Carmen Inoa Vazquez, Ph.D., ABPP
“Did you say: Finding meaning after losing someone you love?”
This is a question that I have often been asked by my grieving patients, and by many of my friends, who have experienced a loss. This is an understandable question to ask because when someone we love dies, we suffer and we hurt. It seems inconceivable to see meaning in any way connected to losses, particularly when we are talking about the loss of someone we love. The most appropriate answer to this question became clear to me when I realized that the definition of “meaning” could have different understandings for different people. It also became clear that it was important to have a uniform definition that could be shared by grievers.
Let’s first look at some useful definitions that hopefully will also place us on the same page when engaging in the language of grief.
In other words:
It is important to be on the same page with grievers –
DIFFERENT TYPES OF GRIEF:
Let me first acknowledge that in fact, the literal translation of grief in Spanish is “duelo”, which means “pain” or “hurt”. We can all connect to that feeling, with variations across individuals. Let me further acknowledge that the experience of grief, which is an emotional reaction to the loss of someone we love, whether a family member, spouse, sibling or dear friend, is always painful, full of sadness, confusion, disbelief and anger. But this same experience can also present for us an opportunity to adapt, to learn to live without that someone we love so dearly, and to find new ways that help in the day to day demands of life on an ongoing basis.